Summary of War of the Worlds Chapter 10 “In the Storm” for class.
Chapter 10 opens with the narrator and his wife reaching Leatherhead from Maybury Hill at 9 PM the same night as Chapter 9. His wife is silent through the ride and wants him to stay in Leatherhead, but he promised the innkeeper that he would return his horse and cart, and he intends to do so.
The narrator has a feeling that he compares to “war fever” and expresses a desire to “be at the death” of that Martians. He starts back at 11 PM and his wife wishes him off, but vanishes from the doorway when he get onto the cart. He feels depressed momentarily, but then he anticipates the Martians again and his spirits rally. He goes back a different way he came, going through Ockham and sees, on the “western horizon a blood-red glow.” It is clouds of a “thunderstorm mingled … with masses of black and red smoke.”
He arrives back at Maybury as the clock strikes midnight and sees “tree-tops and roofs black and sharp against the red” of the sky. A green glow announces the arrival of the third cylinder, which he calls “the third falling star.” A lightning strike follows shortly after that startles his horse, which bolts, surrounded by more strikes and a light hail. As he drives down the hill he sees “something that was moving rapidly down the opposite slope of Maybury Hill” (this is the first appearance of a tripod).
Peppered by lightning flashes, which creates the illusion of stop-motion, he sees the first tripod and attempts to explain it: “A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder.” As it crashes through trees that narrator realizes that he is “galloping hard to meet it” as a second tripod appears. Upon seeing it he panics and jerks the horse’s head which knocks over the horse and cart, killing the horse instantly (broken neck). The narrator laments the “poor brute” as the “colossal mechanism” walks past him.
As the tripod passes the narrator details the limbs as prehensile (they are holding a tree), confirms that it is made of metal, and notes “puffs of green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs.” It also calls to another tripod, drowning out the thunder, before the sky goes dark, and the narrator cannot see them anymore. In a puddle with hail coming down, the narrator decides to make for “a little one-roomed squatter’s hut,” but no one is home so he makes his way back to his own home.
As the narrator runs home “in the darkness a man blundered into me and sent me reeling back,” he cries out in terror, but cannot collect himself enough to speak with him. As he carries on he “stumbled upon something soft” which he realizes is a man. In the darkness the narrator waits for another flash of lightning, which reveals that he is dead, “his head was bent under his body, and he lay crumpled up close to the fence, as though he had been flung violently against it.” The tripods have likely killed him, though the reader may not have realized this yet. As the narrator listens for a heartbeat a third flash of lightning shows that this is the “landlord of the Spotted Dog” from whom he had rented the horse and cart.
The end of the chapter finds the narrator reaching his own home and locking himself in, after which he states: “I crouched at the foot of the staircase with my back to the wall, shivering violently.”