The War of the Worlds

by

H. G. Wells

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The War of the Worlds: Book 2, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After realizing the Martians have died, the narrator doesn’t have any memory of the next three days. Nonetheless, he learns from others that he was collected by a group of wanderers and taken to a hut for shelter, where the wanderers sent a telegraph to Paris announcing the news of the Martians’ death. All of Europe rejoiced, and people started streaming back into London. While this was happening, though, the narrator was in a state of near insanity, apparently chanting, “The Last Man Left Alive! Hurrah! The Last Man Left Alive!” Taking pity, the people who found him nursed him back to health. When he finally comes to his sense, his caretakers tell him that Leatherhead was destroyed by a Martian fighting machine. After four days of recovery, he leaves for home. 
The narrator’s dissociation is perhaps the result of his realization that he has once again entered into the realm of the unknown, though this time the nature of the unknown is different. Whereas before he was forced to accept the new unknown reality of Martians on earth, now he must come to terms with the unsteady world they’ve left behind. To make things worse, he believes he’s the “last man left alive,” so he detaches from reality in order to distance himself from his own loneliness and destitution.
Themes
The Other and The Unknown Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
On his way to Woking, the narrator buys a newspaper. Although most of the pages are blank, the back page is full of advertisements. The only article inside confirms the existence of a flying machine, but is otherwise uninformative. Upon reaching Woking, the narrator sees the horse and dogcart he borrowed from the innkeeper—they are engulfed in the decayed red weed, the bones of the horse white against the daylight. He then searches for the innkeeper, who he discovers has been properly buried. At this point, he ventures home, where the door and windows are open. He goes upstairs to his study, where he finds a piece of writing he had been working on—“In about two hundred years,” the first sentence reads, “we may expect—” The sentence terminates here, and the narrator goes downstairs to the dining-room.
The fragmented sentence the narrator finds written on his desk suggests that the future is entirely unknowable; never in his life would the narrator have guessed Martians would come to earth, rule for a short period, and then swiftly die, leaving humans to piece together a new existence in the aftermath. At the same time, the open-ended nature of the sentence expresses a certain hopefulness, suggesting that the narrator is perhaps now better able to hope for a brighter future after having experienced such hardship. In this moment, disaster seems to breed self-reflection and reevaluation, a process that stands to benefit humankind. 
Themes
The Other and The Unknown Theme Icon
News and The Dissemination of Information Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
Once in the dining room, the narrator hears a voice issuing from behind him: “It’s no use,” it says. “The house is deserted. No one has been here these ten days. Do not stay here to torment yourself. No one escaped but you.” Turning around, the narrator looks out the open window, through which he sees his cousin and his wife. “I came,” she says. “I knew—knew—.” The scene ends just as the narrator reaches out to catch her from fainting.
The narrator’s story ends melodramatically, husband and wife reunited. Somehow both partners have managed to survive, but this is undoubtedly one of the novel’s least significant plot points in terms of thematic importance. Although the narrator’s goal throughout the novel is to find his wife, each chapter focuses more on survival in general than it does on the particulars of his romantic life. Nonetheless, the narrator’s wife gives him a reason beyond plain survival to make it through the Martian occupation alive, and so this scene ultimately renders his efforts worthwhile.
Themes
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon