The shops close in Woking after the Martians use the Heat-Ray, but this doesn’t adequately reflect the attitude held by most people who haven’t yet seen the aliens’ fury. People seem to treat the event as an interesting topic of conversation, writes the narrator, not as a serious threat to their lives. In fact, many people in Woking don’t even know the cylinder has opened, though before he died Henderson sent a messenger to report the news to a local paper. Along with another astronomer, Ogilvy himself also sent word (before dying) that a company of soldiers should report to the pit. Still, everything within range is destroyed, and the narrator estimates roughly forty people now lie in charred heaps. Of those who died, at least three were “crushed and trampled” by fellow humans.
Again, Wells examines the human tendency to pretend everything is normal even when extraordinary events have taken place. It seems many people have heard the news and have simply chosen to regard it as a novelty, an interesting tidbit of information to pass back and forth with the same kind of amusement the newspapers displayed in their cartoons about Mars’s strange flashes days earlier. Above all, this portrays humans as a complacent and uncritical race that sees no need to put any effort whatsoever into protecting their own lives.