Incident inside the Marabar Cave in A Passage To India

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     The incident inside the Marabar Caves was wrapped in absolute mystery. Anyhow, it had created an uproar in the still life of Chandrapore. No one actually knew what exactly had happened inside the cave. The Englishmen had taken it for granted that in one of the darkest caves, Aziz had followed Adela and had tried to violate her modesty, which had caused her nervous breakdown.

      They were convinced that all Indians were criminal by nature and that a white girl was a source of big attraction for all Indians. They searched Aziz's house and discovered his relations with someone who was running a brothel at Calcutta. They also captured some photographs of girls who were dancers in Calcutta. After this the Englishmen were doubly convinced that Aziz, a sexual pervert, could have easily committed the rape. According to them, the whole arrangement of the picnic was motivated by a desire on the part of Aziz to attempt an outrage on her modesty. Mrs. Moore was deliberately led into a cave along with a crowd to discourage her from entering the other cave.

      The Englishmen were not keen on discovering the truth, rather they had an ulterior motive in turning this incident into a lesson for all Englishmen not to mix with the Indians freely. They wanted to prove themselves right that an attempt to seek friendship with Indians was fraught with serious consequences. They wanted to show that the official attitude towards the Indians was quite correct. They had made it a prestige issue.

      Where lies the truth? Miss Adela herself did not know what actually had happened inside the cave. She was in a highly agitated state of mind. No one could tell why she oscillated between hard common-sense and hysteria. She would begin a speech normally as if nothing particular had happened. Then she would murmur with eyes half-closed, "I went into this detestable cave, and I remember scratching the wall with my fingernail to start the usual echo, and then, as I was saying, there was this shadow, or sort of a shadow, down the entrance tunnel, bottling me up. It seemed like an age, but I suppose the whole thing cannot have lasted thirty seconds really. I hit at him with the glasses, he pulled me round the cave by the strap. It broke, I escaped That's all. He never actually touched me once."

      As a matter of fact Aziz had never thought of entrapping her. It was not his fault if Fielding and Godbole had missed the train. There had been no inkling at all of his being guilty after the incident. He had behaved quite normally.

      The argument put forth by Fielding and Godbole that some Pathans might have stealthily sneaked into the cave and molested her chastity, does not appear to be tenable either. Nor could the guides or coolies have dared ever to do so.

      After viewing all this we can come to the conclusion that it was a case of hallucination. Adela was not satisfied with her engagement with Ronny, who was too unimaginative and dull man to attract a young girl. She had been thinking of her relations with Ronny. Was it right on her part to marry a man whom she did not love? Was this marriage to be a vehicle for the satisfaction of animal passion? Marriage without love was no less than a rape. Before going into the cave she had innocently asked Aziz what marriage was like, and she had presumed that her question had aroused the evil desire in him. Such a line of thinking had created a sort of hallucination in her mind. Under the stress of this hallucination, she must have imagined Aziz, embracing her, in an attempt to rape her. The hallucination had so strongly gripped her mind that she had thrown her field-glasses at the imaginary figure of Dr. Aziz. In fact, Dr. Aziz had never followed her into the cave nor had he made any attempt to violate her chastity. As a matter of fact, her disaster and misfortune had nothing to do with Dr. Aziz. It was directly concerned with her engagement with Ronny.

      Her confession before the trial magistrate, in front of the crowded court that Aziz had never followed her into the cave, had been sufficient to prove his innocence.

      Some critics are of the view that she had saved Dr. Aziz under certain extraneous forces. She might have saved him because Fielding and Mrs. Moore maintained that Aziz was innocent. As a good English lady she was more under their influence because she held them in high esteem Secondly, she might have had a soft corner for the handsome Indian who attracted her physically as well as mentally Thirdly, Dr. Aziz had been so nice and kind to her that on second thoughts she had felt sympathy for him and saved him. After all he had done so much for her. Fourthly, her dream of understanding India had shattered before her very eyes. She had wanted to save this dream.

      Whatever may have been the case, all these are conjectures and can be argued and verified. Nothing seems to be clear and definite. The happening at the cave is shrouded in mystery and Dr. Aziz must be given the benefit of the doubt. It seems more likely that Miss Adela Quested had been a victim of hallucination. In the absence of evidential circumstances, and Adela's evidence in his favor demolishes the case and we find no cause for thinking otherwise.


"The incident inside the Marabar Cave was a mysterious one". What is your view about it? Was Miss Adela Quested a victim of hallucination?
Did Aziz assault Miss Adela Quested?
How did the echo effect Miss Adela Quested?
What were the reactions of Fielding and Mrs. Moore about the incident at the Marabar Caves?
Trace the events leading to the expedition to the Marabar Caves and point out the consequences of the expedition.
What is the outcome of the expedition to the Marabar Caves? How does it affect life in Chandrapore?

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