illustration of a large alien vehicle, a tripod, attacking a city with lasers

The War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells

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Topics for Discussion

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1. Why are the characters given abstract names such as "the Narrator" and "the Curate"? Are the names symbolic? What would be the point of symbolic names?

2. In many stories about invaders from outer space, the aliens are so advanced that human beings can do nothing to hurt them. Wells allows his human beings to destroy some Martian war-machines. Why does he do this?

3. Is the ending of the book, in which the Martians are destroyed by microbes and chased down by packs of dogs, a let down? Can you think of a better ending?

4. If modern scientists were to spot flashes of incandescent gas on the surface of Mars, how do think they would react? How would the national government react? How would the military react? Would any of these groups react differently than they do in The War of the Worlds?

5. What if scientists knew for sure that space vehicles were on the way from Mars to Earthhow do you think people would react to the news?

6. The War of the Worlds was published in 1898, and the military technology of Britainthen the world's preeminent military powerseeold-fashionedned when compared to modern weapons. How does this affect your enjoyment of the novel? If you still enjoyed reading The War of the Worlds, what about the book makes it worth reading even though the technology is out of date?

7. After the Martians have crushed the resistance and gained control of the countryside, how do people react to the loss of their civilization? Do you think Wells's portrayal of the survivors is convincing? How would people react after a disaster left them at the mercy of their enemies?

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