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It is interesting that Wells in this seminal text of alien invasion and the annexation of our world presents various characters as representing different responses to the sudden appearance of aliens and the way that humans are actually shown to be so overpowered and weak all of a sudden. The context of the novel therefore is one that presents humans as suddenly being confronted by their own weakness and limitations after centuries of living as the master race.
The artilleryman for example seems to try and argue for the setting up of an alternative society in the sewers of the former civilisation. He paints glorious visions of how man will rebuild a new world underneath the noses of the martians. However, as the narrator realises, in spite of the impressive dreams he has, he is not really dedicated to them and can't be bothered to work to put them into reality. Illusion and dreams seem to be his escape from the horror of what is happening.
The curate that the narrator briefly spends time with is shown to respond to the situation in absolute panic and fear. This annoys the narrator, because he does not see the point of giving your life to religion if it does not allow you to face life with equanimity. The curate, in the face of food shortages when he and the narrator are trapped together, continues to eat and consume food wastefully and is shown to be unstable when he begins to cry out and threatens to draw the attention of the nearby martians. The curate therefore represents the way in which pre-existing ways of thinking and approaches to the world are shown to be lacking when faced with the context of the story.
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