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Free Study Guide-The Time Machine by H. G. Wells-Online BookNotes/Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 4

Summary

A group of the fragile creatures approach the Time Traveller, and he describes them further. Both sides attempt communication, and the Time Traveller discovers that the small people of the 29th century are not as advanced in art and culture and general human knowledge as he had imagined they would be. They are like children, and the Time Traveller experiences extreme disappointment.

The group he encounters leads him to a large building, inside of which is a dining room, where the Time Traveller feasts with the people of the future in their fashion. They eat fruit, and only fruit, though they do have quite a variety of it, with strange ones that the Time Traveller had never seen before. As he is eating, the Time Traveller examines the dining hall, and attempts further conversation with the people around him. After much struggle, the Time Traveller finally discovers the word, ďto eat,Ē but in the process, finds out that the people are easily fatigued and quickly grow tired of the extensive endeavors required for him to learn their language or for them to learn his.


After dinner, the Time Traveller explores their communal building, observing their habits and all he could determine about their culture from his limited experience with them. He finds that there were no individual houses, and that all the people lived in the single, large building, the sexes mingling, and everyone living within close contact with each other. He makes the observation that they seemed to be living in relative security, without a necessary care about their well-being or their safety. In his wanderings, he finds a place in which he can view the Thames Valley, and as he does so he muses about his observations, drawing conclusions about what has come to be in the year 802701. He concludes that the age of progress and enlightenment from which he comes is as ultimately successful as it could ever wish to be.

In the future, there are no pests such as gnats or weeds, or greater dangers such as disease, or social inequality. As a result, though, was a biological adaptation to the utopian nature of the physical environment. Humankind, because it lacked difficulties and challenges, which favor the strong, grew weak and the race of people, quiet, calm, fragile and peaceful came to rule. There was no need for energy or struggle because there was nothing to overcome, and those qualities that were so important in the Time Travellerís era, would only be hindrances in the distant future. At that moment, the Time Traveller is pleased with his conclusions, but the chapter ends with his divulging the incorrectness of his theories.

Notes

This chapter gives further description of the Eloi, as the Time Traveller will later call them, one of the two races he meets on his trip to the future. They are peaceful, weak, and indolent, and their nature goes against much of what the Time Traveller values in a people. He frequently refers to them as children or childish, and his feeling of intellectual superiority is clear. His theories about how humankind ended up as the Eloi give a glimpse of the process of drawing conclusions that a man of science in Wellsís time might be familiar with.

The Time Traveller is clearly well read in Darwinís theories of natural selection, and his quick assumption that the Eloi practice communism, demonstrates his comfort with Marxís writings as well. This chapter also gives further description of the way the landscape has changed; fields of trees and flowers have replaced Londonís congestion. The reader is left with an unexpected picture of where Englandís great society is headed, and the Time Travellerís references to his own errors about the nature of the future world, add a feeling of uncertainty to the direction of the narrative.

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