The story Footprints Without Feet is an excerpt from his science fiction novel The Invisible Man. Through the story, the author displays how humans blatantly misuse their power to satisfy their greed.
Summary: Footprints without Feet
Broadly, Footprints without Feet can be divided into:
- Footprints out of Nowhere
- Footprints of an Invisible Scientist – Griffin
- Griffin Sets His Landlord’s House on Fire and Escapes
- Griffin Breaks into a Store
- Griffin’s Next Destination – The Inn
- Mrs. Hall gets Robbed
- Griffin Suspected as a Thief
- Constable Jaffers’ Arrives
- Griffin Vanishes Again!
Footprints out of Nowhere
- Two boys watched in surprise as muddy footprints suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
- As they watched, another footprint suddenly appeared.
- Curious, they decided to follow the footprints.
- However, as they followed, the footprints grew fainter and finally disappeared.
- There was a simple explanation for the mystery of footprints.
Footprints of an Invisible Scientist – Griffin
- The footprints belonged to Griffin, a scientist.
- After carrying out multiple experiments, Griffin found a pill that successfully made him invisible.
- He could not be seen by other people when he was not wearing clothes.
Griffin Sets His Landlord’s House on Fire and Escapes
- Griffin, though smart, was a criminal. He set fire to his landlord’s house just because the landlord wanted him to leave the house.
- He then ran to avoid being caught.
- Griffin was now homeless – without money or clothes, and he was also invisible.
- Although Griffin had managed to outrun the two boys, his adventures were far from over.
Griffin Breaks Into a Store
- It was cold in London, and Griffin was without clothes.
- He decided to break into a store to escape the cold winter night.
- When the store closed, Griffin indulged himself by dressing himself in warm clothes.
- He got food from a nearby restaurant and wine from a grocery store. Well-clothed and well-fed, Griffin fell asleep in the store.
- He was discovered in the morning by the store assistants. The only way he could escape was to take off his new clothes and run away as fast as he could.
Griffin’s Next Destination – The Inn
- Griffin was naked, freezing in the cold winter air again.
- So, he decided to go to Drury Lane.
- Drury Lane housed different theatrical companies, and Griffin thought he could find clothes to disguise his face and body there.
- In one of the stores, he found a false nose, dark glasses, whiskers, bandages, and a large hat to disguise himself.
- He attacked the shopkeeper from behind to escape.
- He also robbed him of all his money.
- He left London for the village of Iping and booked two rooms at the village inn.
Mrs. Hall Gets Robbed
- Griffin’s arrival was a rare event in the village. Mrs. Hall, the landlord’s curious wife, tried to be friendly, but Griffin wanted to be left alone.
- For a short time, Griffin enjoyed a peaceful time at the inn.
- However, soon he ran out of the money he had stolen.
- Griffin had to lie to the landlord that a cheque was expected. He asked for more time.
- Soon after, there was a curious incident at the clergyman’s house.
- At dawn, the clergyman and his wife were awakened by noises from their study room.
- The clergyman quietly entered the room to catch the intruder but was shocked to see the room empty.
- They looked everywhere but could not find anyone. However, their money was missing.
Griffin Suspected as a Thief
- That day, the landlord and his wife were surprised to see their guest’s door open.
- Usually, Griffin kept it closed and became extremely angry at any interruptions.
- Today, however, the room was open and empty.
- The couple decided that it was the perfect time to spy on their guest.
- However, as they entered the room, they heard a sniff from behind them. Then, a hat flew at Mrs. Hall.
- Finally, the bedroom chair flew from its place and rushed forward to attack the couple.
- Terrified, Mrs. Hall and her husband ran out of the hall. Mrs. Hall was convinced that the room was haunted.
- The couple, however, felt that their guest was somehow responsible.
- Then, the couple heard news of the robbery at the clergyman’s house. The very same day, Griffin gave them some money.
- The couple were suspicious and believed Griffin was the thief.
Constable Jaffers Arrives
- The landlord and his wife called the constable and went to their guest’s room.
- When they confronted Griffin, he was angry.
- Furiously, he took off his bandages. The couple was horrified to see no head on his shoulder.
- Just then, Mr. Jaffers, the constable arrived. He was surprised to see that his thief was a man with no head.
Griffin Vanishes Again!
- Jaffers was a dutiful man. He tried to arrest Griffin but found it increasingly difficult as Griffin started shedding his clothes.
- People tried to help the constable, but how do you capture an invisible man!
- They got hit by invisible blows, and poor Jaffers was knocked unconscious.
- Griffin managed to get himself free since no one could lay their hands on him.
The major theme of the chapter is Misuse of Power:
- Griffin made a startling discovery of a pill that could make the human body invisible, as transparent as glass. Instead of putting this discovery to use for common good of the masses, he misused it to threaten, trouble and rob innocent people.
- He made unsolicited entries in stores and stole from there. He even hurt them and ran away.
- The discovery that had the potential to make Griffin one of the greatest men to live on earth ended up making him a lawless person, merely because he misused the power of it.
The excerpt provides a brief glimpse into these characters:
- Mrs. Hall
Intelligent: Griffin was a brilliant scientist. He discovered a pill to make the human body invisible.
Irritable: Griffin often lost his temper and got annoyed with petty things. He burnt his landlord’s house just because he asked him to leave the house.
Lonely: Although Griffin was alone, he failed to gain the sympathy of people due to his evil acts.
Cruel: Griffin, although a genius mind, was a cruel mind. He deliberately set fire to his landlord’s house just because the landlord wanted him to leave the house. He also attacked and robbed the shopkeeper of the Inn as well as Mr. Hall.
Money-minded: Mrs. Hall welcomed Griffin and tolerated his rudeness and strange behaviour only because she was being paid during a lean season.
Courteous: She tries to know about Griffin’s physical impairment and sympathises towards him.
Superstitious: Mrs. Hall seems to be superstitious as she believed that the room at the inn was haunted.4 of 4
Brave: Indeed, Jaffers is a brave man. When the invisible head threatened him, he reiterated the fact that he was there to arrest him.
Dedicated: He claims that head or no head, he was adamant on arresting Griffin, after he was allegedly charged for robbery.