The Time Machine

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The Time Machine Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Time Traveller feels a sense of impending doom when he realizes that the obstacle to returning to his own era is not simply the stupidity of the Eloi, but the inhuman malevolence of the Morlocks. This sense is compounded by the coming of the new moon, which means that the nights will be pure darkness and the surface will be wholly vulnerable to the Morlocks.
The Time Traveller, who once thought of the year 802,701 as utopian, is now forced to confront that humans have become both stupider and, in the case of the Morlocks, more evil, essentially because technology stranded and embittered them. Even so, he needs technology (the time machine) to get home.
Themes
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
The Time Traveller reflects that while for thousands of years the Eloi must have been the rulers, the old order was slipping. The only reason the Morlocks hadn’t yet claimed the surface is that their eyes could not adjust, but their strength, intelligence, and ambition was superior to the Eloi, and the Morlocks’ eventual rule was inevitable. Knowing this, the Time Traveller determines to arm himself so that he might sleep without being vulnerable in the darkness.
The Time Traveller now knows enough about this world that he can project a historical narrative both backwards (Victorian social classes evolved into Morlocks and Eloi), and forwards to predict that the Morlocks will overtake the Eloi to rule the earth. This essentially means that evil defeats good, and the working class finally gets its revenge on the rich for their exploitation—but only after the working class itself has degenerated to an inhuman level.
Themes
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
In order to search for materials that might be helpful against the Morlocks, the Time Traveller decides to look inside the green porcelain building he had seen before. He sets off with Weena, but soon realizes the distance is greater than he thought, and it is past sunset when he first glimpses the building on the horizon. Throughout the journey Weena had been filling his pockets with flowers, the Time Traveller recalls. The Time Traveller, breaking his narrative, pulls two flowers from his pockets and places them on the table in front of his dinner guests. Then he resumes telling his story.
Weena has been the Time Traveller’s constant companion and his only source of humanlike compassion and friendship. Her placing flowers in his pocket is an act of kindness that comforts the Time Traveller on his risky journey. Though the Eloi are lazy and Weena tires easily, she has shown unusual stamina (for an Eloi) in following after the Time Traveller, which suggests that there is some truth to the Time Traveller’s observation that it is only through being challenged that humans improve.
Themes
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
As darkness falls, Weena becomes frightened and tired and the Time Traveller has to carry her. He comes to a thick wood and decides that the danger of crossing it in the darkness is too great, so he sits on the hillside, waiting for the moon to come up. As he waits, he looks at the constellations and reflects on the trajectory of mankind—during the hundreds of thousands of years he has traveled the sky has changed, human culture has become extinct, and what’s left are the Eloi and the Morlocks. He realizes suddenly that the Morlocks eat the Eloi.
Every so often the Time Traveller reflects on the futility of the human endeavor, and this time it is a consideration of how much culture and effort has been lost over the millennia. It’s a horrifying realization that after all of the cultural achievements—language, science, art—of contemporary humans, all that is left are the helpless Eloi and the Morlocks, whom the Time Traveller suddenly understands to be cannibals. Wells’ vision of the future continues to get bleaker.
Themes
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
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The Time Traveller barely sleeps that night, and in the morning he and Weena traverse the wood. While they walk he reflects on what has led the Morlocks to eat the Eloi, who are their evolutionary relatives. He surmises that at a certain point the Morlocks ran out of their food source and they were forced to turn to the Eloi. Meanwhile they must have lost, over the years, the cultural taboo against cannibalism. The Time Traveller remarks that this taboo is not a deep-rooted instinct in humans of his own era, but a mere cultural prejudice. Still, in order to stave off his horror, the Time Traveller tries to think about the cannibalism as retribution for the Eloi’s selfishness, a natural punishment for the thousands of generations of labor exploitation. Despite this effort, the Time Traveller cannot help but sympathize with the Eloi, as they have better preserved the human form, which, of course, is the Time Traveller’s own.
The Time Traveller often tries to parse what is deeply rooted in human nature and what is simply cultural conditioning. He wonders about fear, first thinking it has disappeared and then realizing that it is still innate. He wonders similarly about kindness, which has endured in one species but not the other. The taboo against cannibalism is a powerful one in the Time Traveller’s era—one that might even seem to be a defining trait of contemporary humans—but even that proves not to be inherent to the species. Perhaps the lesson here is that the human qualities that endure are simply those that are evolutionarily advantageous, and it is not useful to cling to traits like intelligence and strength as being definitive of human beings, since they could disappear if the circumstances were right. Despite his attempt to view evolutionary changes as neutral facts, the Time Traveller still finds himself sympathetic to the species that is more recognizably human.
Themes
Inequality and Social Class Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Humans, Nature, and the Universe Theme Icon
Fear and Kindness Theme Icon
The Time Traveller then lays out his objectives for the green building: he needs a place of refuge, some metal or stone weapons, a way to make fire, and a tool that will allow him to open the metal panels on the Sphinx statue. He says he will bring Weena back to his own time once he has retrieved the time machine.
The Time Traveller now has all the knowledge he needs to get his time machine back, and his attention has thus turned away from observation and towards action.
Themes
Technology and Progress Theme Icon