John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.
Why The War of the Worlds?
In the Victorian Era, Londoners had become somewhat complacent, as well as overly confident in their secure position in a peaceful world. After all, the British Empire only fought in one major war, which they won, during Queen Victoria's lengthy reign. The War of the Worlds was a wake-up call to the citizens, as H.G. Wells spun a masterful tale of what could happen to the country. These discussion questions will help teach your students not only about remaining vigilant, but also about treating other creatures that live on our planet with respect.
Questions About the Plot (Book I, Chapters 1-5)
- In the first paragraph, how did the author compare aliens studying humans to the way humans study other life forms, and how did this set up the rest of the story?
- After people witnessed the first falling star, what did it turn out to be instead?
- Who were Henderson and Ogilvy, and what became of them?
- What happened when the cylinder opened as the people stood near it?
- What was the Heat-Ray, and how were the humans able to respond to it?
Questions About the Plot (Book I, Chapters 6-11)
- What happened to the people when the Heat-Ray reached Chobham Road?
- When he reached home, how did the narrator and his wife deal with the situation?
- On Friday night, how did the curious people initially treat the arrival of the Martians?
- When the fighting began, why did the narrator take the horse and dog cart to Leatherhead?
- What happened to the narrator when he tried to make the trip without his wife?
- When the narrator met the artilleryman, what did they discuss?
Questions About the Plot (Book I, Chapters 12-17)
- What happened at Weymouth and Shepperton? How did the narrator survive?
- What was the job of the curate? How did he handle the entirety of the Martian invasion?
- What happened to the narrator's brother in London? Visualize and describe how the Black Smoke weapon terrorized the frightened citizenry.
- In Surrey, how did the narrator observe the way in which the Martians communicated with each other?
- How would you describe the masses fleeing from London? Who were the two women the narrator's brother encountered along the way?
- What was the Thunder Child? What was it able to do to the Martians?
Questions About the Plot (Book II, Chapters 1-5)
- How was the narrator injured while he was hiding in the house with the curate?
- How did the narrator describe the bodies of the Martians?
- What were the Martians doing with captured humans? What did the process entail?
- How would you describe the narrator's roughly two weeks of confinement in the house? What became of the curate?
- What was the red weed that the narrator began to notice?
Questions About the Plot (Book II, Chapters 6-10)
- How had the world changed when the narrator finally went outside after his confinement in the house?
- How did the narrator reunite with the artilleryman? What was their time together like?
- What happened to the narrator upon his return to London?
- What finally happened to the narrator's mental state? Who thankfully came to his assistance? What became of the narrator's wife?
- To what conclusions did the narrator arrive in the epilogue? What was his final recommendation for the human race?
Questions About the Themes
- When was this book written? How did the beliefs of the people of that era color their view of the world and the possibility of alien visitations?
- How did the fact that the name of the narrator was never given affect the reader?
- Since the narrator spoke in his point of view, the viewpoint of the whole world, and in his brother's viewpoint, how did that add three layers of complexity to the storytelling?
- Compare and contrast the way Martians used humans for their purposes with the way humans use animals for their purposes.
- How did the Martians create a hierarchy in which different levels included rich people, middle-class people, poor people, and animals? Which group was at the top and which was at the bottom? In what ways do we still create these hierarchies within modern society?
- Abraham Maslow famously created his 'Hierarchy of Needs' for humans. How did the Martian invasion reduce humans to just struggling for survival instead of reaching for self-actualization?
- How would you describe the difference between the way the Martians controlled the human race and the way one country of people sometimes controls another country of people?
- Juxtapose the way the newspapers of those days swayed the minds of the masses versus the way the various media outlets of modern times sway the minds of the masses?
- How was the symbolism of romance and lost love intermingled throughout the daily tragedies of the Martian invasion?
- Imagine what it would be like if you had a time machine and traveled back to the Martian invasion. What would it be like to no longer be at the top of the food chain?
- In what way would you depict the shocking scene of a similar invasion happening in modern times? What would it feel like to be under the control of an alien race? Would you panic like the curate, or would you remain calmer like the narrator? Justify your answers.
- How would you draw an analogy between the way the people in London became complacent and felt invincible versus the way modern countries may become complacent and feel they are invincible?
- How does fear of the unknown weave its way throughout the tale? Why do people have such a fear? In what similar ways do people today fear the unknown? What unknowns do people fear?
- Create in your mind's eye the idea of humans finding less advanced aliens on another planet. How would we treat them, with respect or the way the Martians treated humans in the book? Detail your answers.
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