All Human Life: in A Passage To India

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      Lionel Trilling in his study of Forster and his novels, appears at first glance to be not very accurate estimate of the novel A Passage to India. But on deeper consideration the truth of this remark can be realized. What Trilling means to say is that the novel is not merely of topical interest but of human interest as well. It deals with the problems of humanity at large.

      Though the background of the novel is India and most of the characters are either Indians or Englishmen who have come to India as officers, the issues that arise due to the interaction of these characters is of universal interest. Mrs. Moore, a character in the novel puts it in a very significant manner to her son Ronny. She says that India is a part of the world and the human heart works exactly in the same manner in India as in any other country. As human beings, the Indians and their rulers — the Englishmen — behave in the same manners as other human beings would do in any other part of the world if they were put in the same situation. Their hopes, aspirations, feelings and actions are not very different from that of any other person in similar circumstances.

      A Passage to India is not only a true representation of the British-Raj in India but also a vivid portrayal of the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor. The oppressed, whether he be an Indian or an African and the oppressor, whether he be an Englishman or a French, the story will always be the same. Mr. Turton and Ronny, Mr. McBryde and Major Callendar are more the representatives of tyranny than of England. They can be found in any part of the world and in any age. Similarly, Aziz, Hamidullah and Mahmood Ali or even Professor Godbole and Mr. Das are representatives of a race which has been robbed of its opportunities due to political subjection, rather than the representatives of India alone. Forster is not interested merely showing political strife, he is also interested in depicting the clash of individuals.

      The author of A Passage to India is interested more in the delineation of personal relationships than in the description of events. Personal relationship is much more important to him than anything else, as he has reiterated over and over again through the mouths of his characters and even in his own critical work The Aspects of the Novel. Thus Mr. Trilling is justified in remarking that Forster's book is not about India alone, but about all human life.

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