A Passage To India: Part 2 Chapter 15 - Summary & Analysis

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      Aziz and Miss Adela Quested proceeded towards the caves. Since it was difficult to reach the top of 'Kawa Doi' and it was getting hotter every moment, they were content with the caves below. The guide took them into several caves. They lit a match, enjoyed its reflection on the wall, tested the echoes and came out again.

      Aziz was thinking of breakfast and Adela brooded over her marriage with Ronny. She felt she did not love Ronny. Should she break off the marriage? But such a step would cause a lot of trouble to others. She did not agree to the maxim "Love is necessary for a successful union." Suddenly she asked Aziz whether he was married. Aziz lied and replied in the affirmative. He even invited her to meet his wife (when actually his wife was dead long ago). Adela thought Aziz to be very handsome. She was charmed by his oriental beauty. She honestly found no physical charm in Ronny or herself, Thinking that all Mohammedans had four wives, (this she learned from Mrs. Turton) she dared to ask Aziz whether he had more than one wife. Being an educated Muslim he was shocked at this straightforward question and took it as an insult to his community. Aziz let go her hand and stammered that he had only one wife. He uttered "Damn the English even at their best" and disappeared into a cave. Adela, unconscious of the fact that her question had offended Aziz, and being half-bored and half-thinking of her marriage, also stepped into the cave.

Critical Analysis

      This chapter shows the difference in attitude of an Oriental and an Occidental. Whereas Orientals like Aziz can lie without any qualms, the Occidentals like Miss Adela Quested are frank and honest. Adela honestly admits to herself that neither she nor Ronny has any physical charm whereas people like Aziz have a particular Oriental beauty. The caves which represent the Indian's heart, remain a mystery even to Adela who is earnest in her attempt at understanding the Indians. The author wishes to point out that it is difficult to understand a different culture and even simple and innocent questions can cause a lot of offense.

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