A study, a glimpse, into the heart of man. The white man has many large footprints around the world where God, the pursuit of exploration, and the hope to "civilize" granted permission to pillage, destroy, and rape a people and land. The natives might have called them Martians. But they didn't. But reading a story that places the white man on the other side of colonization certainly has a different feel to it than our high school history books.
The War of the Worlds was a decent and easy read which also made it tolerable. If it had gone on too much longer it may have been shelved before completed, but as it is, just shy of 200 pages, it was worth the read.
And it offered a few choice nuggets. In Chapter 13, one of the minor characters (the curate) finds himself in complete mental anguish and begins a brief discussion of the purpose of life, conflict, and role of man.
"What does it mean?" he said. "What do these things mean?
I stared at him and made no answer.
He extended a thin white hand and spoke in almost a complaining tone.
"Why are these things permitted? What sins have we done? The morning service was over, I was walking through the roads to clear my brain for the afternoon, and then - fire, earthquake, death! As if it were Sodom and Gomorrah! All our work undone, all the work - What are these Martians?"
"What are we?" I answered, clearing my throat. He gripped his knees and turn to look at me again. For half a minute, perhaps, he stared silently. "I was walking through the roads to clear my brain," he said. "And suddenly - fire, earthquake, death!"
He relapsed into silence, with his chin now sunken almost to his knees.
Presently he began waving his hand. "All the work - all the Sunday school -- What have we done - what has Weybridge done? Everything gone - everything destroyed. The church! We rebuilt it only three years ago. Gone! Swept out of existence! Why?"
. . .
"Be a man!" said I. "You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think God exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent."
H.G. Wells then provides a possible answer to the question of what is the purpose of conflict? What is It all about?
Answer: to endure, and to not lose hope.
By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.
And then he concludes with:
And there, amazed and afraid, even as I stood amazed and afraid, were my cousin and my wife - my wife white and tearless. She gave a faint cry. "I came," she said. "I knew - knew --"
She put her hand to her throat - swayed. I made a step forward, and caught her in my arms."