War of the Worlds: Human Survival

As the Martians fire their deadly heat rays, destroying towns and cities will anyone survive against the overwhelming odds? What were the Martians doing here? This could not have been a friendly visit, so what were their intentions?

In H.G. Wells War of the Worlds the humans? instinct to survive overcomes threats to their existence.

When faced with the unknown the human instinct for survival gives us only two options, fight or flight.

When the unknown plumes of fire were first spotted shooting from Mars it attracted many scientists, and it was also the same year that Mars was close enough to Earth to allow scientists to observe it with telescopes from that era. It was not until the cylindrical object, for that is what the scientists now knew what it was, entered the Earth?s atmosphere that most humans felt the fear of the unknown. When the first object had landed, many noises were heard emanating from within. As time went on the noises gradually faded to nothing and many people felt relief that whatever was living inside, was now dead. It was not until the lid started unscrewing that humans became frantic. "It?s a-movin?, a-screwin? and a screwin? out. I don?t like it. I?m a-goin? ?ome, I am." (Wells 11) The lid fell off, and a snake-like tentacle emerged from the darkness, firing the deadly heat ray. The snake-like tentacle was an appendage on the almighty Martian fighting machine.

The humans had to overcome threats to their existence by fighting back. For many it was a constant battle to persevere in spite of their losses and for some it was the journey of escape in which to survive.

Without any chance of survival, many are killed in the line of duty as they sacrificed their lives for others. Many have been killed because they have hid or they have been trampled over in the mass exodus from the Martians. The soldiers had to fight back at all costs, and many were out nights trying to defeat the Martians. "Under a bridge I found a group of soldiers ready for battle." (23) "During the night the Martians had been surrounded by Military troops and that heavy artillery was expected." (22) The weaponry that the humans had was not effective against the Martians. Many soldiers had plans to kill the Martians but the only option that may work was to "sneak up on them and begin firing" (23) in an ambush. When it was time to carry out the plan the soldiers had abandoned their posts because of the overpowering fear within them and they knew what the Martians were capable of. They too wanted to survive. The army had decided that when a cylinder falls it must be destroyed. "New plans were formed to destroy the object before it opened" (24) but the right munitions were needed to accomplish the task. The warship "The Thunder Child" was sent in to help in the fight because it had large guns and that were capable of destroying large objects. "The Thunder Child" waited in the harbour for the Martian fighting machine to come close enough and instead of firing would ram it. The reason for knocking the Martian fighting machine over is because the Navy had already known that guns and heavy weaponry could not destroy the Martians fighting machine. The water had destroyed the first Martian fighting machine and they would try to accomplish the same task.

The many soldiers that managed to escape had to find a place to hide and one "pushed on, wet and shivering to the nearest house." (29) Other soldiers that did not want to take the risk of flight "hid under dead horses for a long time, peeping out furtively across the common" (33) in hopes that the Martians would leave. People returning to their homes found soldiers retreating, hiding or dead. The soldiers cared about other people because those returning home were told to leave because "you may be hurt if you cross the canal." (22) Soldiers retreated beyond the range of heat rays and continued to fire wildly at the fighting Martians. It was hard to survive when the enemy is about twenty times the size that you are and have superior weaponry. Even though many sacrificed their lives and died, the efforts were continued.