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The Narrator’s knowledge and humility ensure that not only will he survive the invasion, but he is also well-suited to deliver an unbiased account of events. As the protagonist and main character, he relays all of the information. He is an astute man who seems well educated and whose specialty is speculative philosophy. Throughout most of the novel, his motivation is to survive the Martian attacks. He believes in evolution and is interested in the Martians’ anatomy and habits. Darwin’s theory portrayed in On the Origin of Species was a relatively recent publication at the writing of this novel. Many people were quick to dismiss Darwin’s theory, but the Narrator shows that he is a believer through his descriptions of the highly evolved Martians and his explanations for why the red plants and the Martians, who, unlike humans, have no immunity to bacteria on Earth.
The Narrator is one of the first people to learn of the Martians’ first cylinder landing on Earth. Initially, he assumes that humans will defend and defeat the Martians quite easily, echoing the vanity Wells ascribes to man. The Narrator is soon overcome with fear, however, as he realizes that the Martians are bent on the destruction of humanity. His love and care for his wife are apparent, as he goes to great lengths to attempt to get her to safety. He claims that he may have exceptional mood changes, as he describes his detachment from himself at times. He also claims that his emotions weaken fairly quickly, however, and both traits are evident throughout the story. The Martians intrigue him, and he is courageous in his attention to them. At other times he is frightened to the point of immobility yet able to right himself and make lucid decisions when his life is in peril. His tone is thoughtful and precise. He gives an exceptionally detailed account of events.
The Narrator demonstrates his ability to put things in context as he speaks about the dominion of humanity over animals and wonders if animals have the same fear of humans as he has for the Martians. The Narrator is a good judge of character. He points out early on that he should have left the curate behind and makes the decision to leave the artilleryman once he realizes that his plan is fantastical. His opinion changes from a certainty that no extraterrestrial beings could be more highly evolved and technologically skilled than humans to understanding that the Martians are exactly those things. Despite all of the evidence of human frailty he witnesses, he remains optimistic that humans have learned from this experience. By the end of the story, he no longer views humans as the universe’s most superior beings, and he has less confidence in the future.