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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
Book One: The Coming of the Martians
Chapter Two (The Falling Stars)
In Chapter Two, the Martian landing takes place and the news of it begins to spread. The narrator himself misses the craft streaking across the sky, but many other people see it, though they mistake it for a falling star. Early the next morning, Ogilvy starts out and finds the “meteorite” (as he at first supposes it is) near the sand pits in Horsell Common. Its impact on Earth has made a big hole and left the Thing itself mostly covered in sand. From what could be seen though, Ogilvy notes that it looked like a huge cylinder with a 30 yard diameter. He could hear a “stirring noise” coming from within it but it is too hot from its descent through the atmosphere for him to draw nearer.
“Then suddenly he noticed with a start that some of the grey clinker, the ashy incrustation that covered the meteorite, was falling off the circular edge of the end.” As he noticed this was due to it rotating very slowly, (think of the opening of a submarine hatch after it surfaces), he grasps that the Thing was not a meteorite at all, but artificial, hollow, and with something alive inside. The flashes from Mars come to his mind and he makes the connection.
Excited, Ogilvy takes off for the nearest town, Woking. Although taken for crazy by the first two men he tells, he manages to get his story out to Henderson, a journalist, who quickly follows him back to the pit.
The cylinder is silent now, and, after hitting it with a stick provokes no response, they hurry back to town, believing whatever was inside to be dead. As the news spread, many, including the narrator, head off “to see the ‘dead men from Mars.’”
Additional foreshadowing is in this chapter, telling of the destruction that the Martians will bring to Earth. There were no birds or breeze the morning Ogilvy discovered the cylinder, much like the calm before a storm. Its landing had made a huge hole, and smashed the tree that had been standing there to pieces.
The chapter also says something of human behavior. The narrator does not see the Thing fall to Earth, though it would certainly have been “visible to [him] had [he] only looked up as it passed.” Few took interest in what they believed to be a falling star; yet, by the end of the chapter, they are hurrying off to see the “dead men.”