Reading War of The Worlds, Book One, Chapter Three, On Horsell Common

war of the worlds by h.g. wells, chapter 3 As with any extraordinary event, a crowd has gathered. Boys, as they will, are throwing stones at the unknown phenomenon. The narrator muses on how utterly incomprehensible this is to the average ogler:

Fewof the common people in England had anything but the vaguest astronomical ideas in those days…p.253

Unlike in the musical, our narrator seems not to be the Journalist, but an independently wealthy gentleman, with nothing to do but dabble with intellectual ideas and hobnob with others who do the same. That’s how he gains access to the inner circle around the cylindar.

My mind ran fancifully on the possibilities of its containingmanuscript, on the difficulties in translation that might arise, whether we shoud find coins and models in it, and so forth…I felt an impatience to see it opened..p.254

…and even if you knew nothing else about this story, the writing here tells you to scream ‘Idiot! Run!’ at the narrator :)

Chapter Notes

I love the sense of pause in this chapter.

He describes the scene, the crowd, the oppressive heat of the day (‘not a could in the sky nor a breath of wind’). He shows us ‘half a dozen flys or more fromthe Woking station…a basket-chaise from Cobham, a rather lordly carriage’, all the sightsee-ers of every class, coming to gawk.

He’s really ratchetting up the tension without being at all flashy.