“What the Thunder Said” is set in various places. The first three stanzas are set in a desolate and deserted place where it resembles a true waste land, emphasizing the dire need of society for salvation. “Falling towers” and “unreal cities” indicates the destruction and corruption within society. The title of this part has been derived from an Indian legend, which says that all beings, the men, devils and as well as gods, listen to what the thunder says in order to restore life to the “wasteland”.
This part starts off with a setting of a rocky place with no water. Water here symbolizes salvation and hope, thus the beginning of part V reflects on a society where civilization is corrupted, impure, given in temptations – in need of salvation. As the poem progresses, we reach another setting where civilization is engulf in fire which is both a purifying and destructive element and it therefore plays a significant role in the rebirth and regeneration of society. This resembles an apocalypse.Later on, hope is finally coming – re-emergence of water bringing with it the hope of rebirth by the thunder. Thunder plays an important role. When it speaks, Eliot describes it as God delivering three groups of followers -– men, demons, and the gods -– the sound “Da”: Datta for humans which means to give – to curb man’s greed, dayadhvam for devils which means to have compassion and empathy for others, and damyata for gods which means to control for they are wild and rebellious. Together, God gives these three orders which add up to a consistent moral perspective, composure, generosity, and empathy lying at the core, to reach inner peace.