The War of the Worlds

by

H. G. Wells

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The Artilleryman Character Analysis

A soldier who operates one of the large guns used to fight the Martians. When the horse he’s riding falls into a ditch, the gun he and his comrades are manning is exploded by a Martian Heat-Ray. Too terrified to move, the artilleryman hides under his dead horse. Eventually, the fighting machine leaves, at which point the artilleryman crawls away and makes for the woods, finally coming upon the narrator’s home. The narrator lets him inside and gives him a glass of whiskey while listening to his horrific story. The two men decide to set out together the next day, but are quickly separated in a frenzied encounter with the Martians. The narrator later encounters the artilleryman after spending many days in hiding. Having seen the worst of the Martians, the artilleryman explains his plan for survival, telling the narrator that humans must go on living “for the sake of the breed” and that doing so will require reverting to the lifestyle of a sewer rat. He criticizes society for being too soft and weak, saying that people have gotten used to luxury and forgotten about survival. However, the artilleryman reveals himself to be overzealous when the narrator and he start digging in an attempt to reach the sewer system and he repeatedly suggests breaks for food and drink. In the end, the narrator sees that he’s a lazy and fearful man with absurd and lofty ideas about humanity.

The Artilleryman Quotes in The War of the Worlds

The The War of the Worlds quotes below are all either spoken by The Artilleryman or refer to The Artilleryman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The War of the Worlds published in 2005.
Book 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

They just used to skedaddle off to work—I’ve seen hundreds of ’em, bit of breakfast in hand, running wild and shining to catch their little season-ticket train, for fear they’d get dismissed if they didn’t; working at businesses they were afraid to take the trouble to understand; skedaddling back for fear they wouldn’t be in time for dinner; keeping indoors after dinner for fear of the back-streets; and sleeping with the wives they married, not because they wanted them, but because they had a bit of money that would make for safety in their one little miserable skedaddle through the world. Lives insured and a bit invested for fear of accidents. And on Sundays—fear of the hereafter.

Related Characters: The Artilleryman (speaker), The Narrator
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

And we form a band—able-bodied, clean-minded men. We’re not going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weaklings go out again. […] Those who stop obey orders. Able-bodied, clean-minded women we want also—mothers and teachers. No lackadaisical ladies—no blasted rolling eyes. We can’t have any weak or silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It’s a sort of disloyalty, after all, to live and taint the race. And they can’t be happy. Moreover, dying’s none so dreadful.

Related Characters: The Artilleryman (speaker), The Narrator
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Artilleryman Character Timeline in The War of the Worlds

The timeline below shows where the character The Artilleryman appears in The War of the Worlds. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 11: At the Window
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
News and The Dissemination of Information Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
...whiskey and waits for him to calm down. Finally, the newcomer says that he’s an artilleryman who was momentarily separated from his regiment when his horse tripped and fell. Right at... (full context)
The Other and The Unknown Theme Icon
The narrator serves the artilleryman mutton and bread, which they share in the darkness for fear of attracting the Martians... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12: What I Saw of the Destruction of Weybridge and Shepperton
News and The Dissemination of Information Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
In the morning, the narrator and the artilleryman set out together, traveling north in order to avoid the third cylinder, which lies between... (full context)
News and The Dissemination of Information Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
Upon reaching Weybridge, the narrator and artilleryman can’t find the military headquarters amidst the chaos of confused pedestrians and eager traffic. Moving... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 7: The Man on Putney Hill
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
...renegade is astonished, and the narrator realizes that the man standing before him is the artilleryman he traveled with before meeting the curate. (full context)
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
The Other and The Unknown Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
The artilleryman fills the narrator in on what’s happened in the past two weeks, explaining that the... (full context)
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
“What will they do with us?” the narrator asks the artilleryman, who tells the narrator that he has thought a great deal about this question. He... (full context)
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
The artilleryman’s plan is to live underground in a network of tunnels that connect to London’s sewer... (full context)
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
The artilleryman is so convincing in his vision of humanity’s way forward that the narrator follows him... (full context)
Order, Subordination, and Hierarchy Theme Icon
The Other and The Unknown Theme Icon
Evolution and Survival Theme Icon
Going downstairs, neither the narrator nor the artilleryman want to resume work, so they eat a meal instead, and the artilleryman urges the... (full context)