This image is from Mark Twain's 1884 novel The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. It occurs during the time when Huck and Jim are travelling by raft down the Mississippi River. One night during a storm, they come across a steamship which has run aground and is listing. Assuming it to be abandoned, Huck convinces a reluctant Jim that they should go aboard to see if there's any food they can pilfer. Once on the ship, however, they discover that the ship is indeed still occupied- by three criminals who are having a falling out. Suspicious that the third member of their group is planning to turn them in, the other two are discussing either shooting him or scuttling the boat and leaving him to drown. Undetected, Huck and Jim plan to sneak back off the ship and go inform the local sheriff, but find to their dismay that their raft has broken loose in the storm and floated off down the river. Uh oh.
This image is from the 1896 novel Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz. It is set in the very early days of the Christian church- Paul and Peter are both characters in it- and is a love story about Lygia, a young Christian woman and Marcus Vinicius, a wealthy Roman. It takes place against the backdrop of the ghastly persecution of the Christians in Nero's Rome. In this scene Lygia, who has been imprisoned for her faith, is tied on the back of a bull which is then sent out into the arena. There it charges at Ursus, her servant and fellow Christian who has been sent out to fight the bull because of his great strength. Nero has gleefully forced Vinicius to watch what he assumes will be the gory death of the woman he loves but to everyone's shock, Ursus manages to kill the bull and rescue Lygia. The fickle crowd, awed by his strength, cheers for Ursus and this forces the sadistic Nero to pardon the two Christians.
This image is from George Orwell's 1945 novella Animal Farm. The tale is an allegory for the Russian Revolution and life in Stalin's Soviet Union. In it, the boar Old Major (Karl Marx) plans a rebellion against the human owners of Manor Farm but dies before it can take place. Two young pigs, Snowball (Leon Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin) take up the cause and lead the animals in a successful revolution. The pigs take over leadership of the farm and this eventually leads to a power struggle between them. When Snowball announces plans to build a windmill, Napoleon opposes him and has his private army of attack dogs chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon seizes power and builds the windmill, taking credit for the idea. From then on, Snowball is used as a scapegoat; when anything goes wrong on the farm, Napoleon spreads the word that Snowball is responsible, working from outside to sabotage the animals' efforts. He also has his dogs kill animals suspected of collaborating with Snowball in a series of purges. The parallels to Soviet Russia are obvious and ugly.
This image is from the 1953 book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The novel is set in a dystopian future in which books are banned and owning them is illegal. The protagonist is Guy Montag who is a fireman. You might think that this is a noble profession, but in this future firemen don't put out fires; when any caches of illegal books are located they are sent out to burn them.This is why the book has the title it does: 451 degrees fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper ignites. One night while he's on duty at the station, the alarm goes off and the firemen are sent to a house where a woman is hiding books in her attic. She is defiant, quoting the words of Hugh Latimer to Nicholas Ridley in 1555 as they were tied to the stake to be burned: "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."As the firemen begin to attack the books with their flamethrowers, the woman declares that they can't have her books, pulls out a match and lights her entire house and- horrifically- herself on fire, causing a great conflagration against the night sky.
This illustration is from the Sherlock Holmes short story The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb, which is found in the book The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. There's a clue to this in the right hand corner: the initials "S.P." which stand for Sidney Paget, the man who did the original illustrations for the Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand magazine. The story by Arthur Conan Doyle was written in 1892 and is set a couple of years earlier, in 1889. In this tale, a young hydraulic engineer named Victor Hatherley has just gone into business for himself and doesn't as of yet have many clients. His office is visited by a Colonel Lysander Stark who tells Hatherley that he wants him to repair a hydraulic press which is being used to compress "fuller's earth" (clay) into bricks. Stark offers to pay him 50 guineas- an astronomical amount- for the job, but also tells him that it is confidential work which can't be talked about. Hatherley thinks this odd, but can't afford to turn down the job. The press is located outside of London and Hatherley takes a train out of town and is met by Stark who drives him a considerable distance in a carriage with covered windows. When they arrive at a house, Hatherley is briefly left alone by Stark and a woman appears, warning him that he should get out. Spooked but needing the money, Hatherley stays and Stark returns, taking him to the room where the press is. Hatherley climbs into the press to examine it and finds a metallic deposit on the floor of it which makes it obvious that it's not being used to press fuller's earth. Fed up with all the secrecy, he tells Stark that he'd stand a better chance of repairing the press if he was told the truth about what it was being used for. Instead, Stark locks Hatherley in and turns the press on, intending to crush him to death. Fortunately the mysterious woman reappears and releases him from the press. He is making his way out of the house when Stark realizes that the press was turned off and finds Hatherley, trying to kill him with an axe. Hatherley is forced to jump out a second storey window and while he is clinging to the sill, Stark brings down the axe, chopping off the young engineer's thumb. Hatherley falls, but survives and eventually makes his way back to London. Hatherley goes to Dr. Watson's office to have his hand treated and bandaged. When he relates what happened, Watson takes him to see Holmes who immediately resolves to find out what is going on.