While reading War of the Worlds a few months ago, I kept returning to the same feeling of resentment. This resentment stemmed from my deep, deep hatred of the book’s protagonist. Initially I felt guilty for feeling this way, as I’ve never experienced emotions quite like it while reading. At the time I thought, “This is ridiculous Jacob, pull yourself together and sympathize with this guy!” As I slowly progressed into the start, the middle, and then finally the end of the book, I discovered that I did NOT care about what happened to him.
I’ll go ahead and break down the reasons why I felt so disconnected from him, as these feelings are justified. For starters, let’s all agree that the guy is bipolar. Throughout the entire novel, he went from 0-100 at the drop of a dime even without being prompted by the Martians. I can remember a moment where he narrated about how the aliens weren’t a threat or to be worried about then immediately started panicking and spewing paragraphs about how the entire civilization was doomed. Also, can we talk about how he pretty much murdered The Curate? I know that the guy was annoying, but to render the man unconscious through bludgeon while the aliens were RIGHT next to them was kind of a dick move.
Situations and moments like this constantly repeating over and over again throughout the novel made it a really hard read for me. What I find most tragic about it is that H.G. Wells failed to connect me to his character. Through representing the character so poorly and essentially one-dimensional, the author lost my interest and my sympathy. Maybe I didn’t read closely enough or maybe I formed an opinion too early on, but as I finished the novel I couldn’t shake this feeling; not even to this date.
If you were to represent/write this character differently, how would you go about it? Would you want to change more of his actions or more of his personality?