Pessimistic Approch Toward A Passage To India

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      The Eternal Problem of the Occident and the Orient. Rudyard Kipling and other writers have often spoken and written that East is East and the West is West and never shall the twain meet. The differences in the cultural traditions of the two geographical areas act as a great barrier between them making the personal intimacies of the members of the two regions highly unfeasible despite the endeavor of persons of far-sighted broad-mindedness on either side. As circumstances existed at the time of the events of the novel when India was under the domination of the British people, the bridging of the yawning gulf between the two had been beset with hundreds of hurdles.

      The prevailing social atmosphere of the representatives of British Imperialism in India was so vitiated by snobbery, censoriousness, haughtiness and racial prejudices that every new recruit to the Indian Civil Services lost all refinement and ceased to be civil and became one devoid of any intention to render service to the local people. Ronny Heaslop took pride in saying often that the English rulers in India were not obliged to behave pleasantly towards the natives. It was their duty to keep law and order. The Civil Surgeon harassed his junior in every possible manner and the result was estrangement between the Indians and the Anglo-Indians as a class. The basic theme of the novel revolves round the incidents in the caves and the subsequent charge of molestation and the trial of Dr. Aziz. This fact also underscores the widening gap between the ruler and the ruled. The ladies used to be more overbearing than their menfolk. The wife of the Collector audaciously remarked that the Indians should be made to crawl from the city to the caves on their hands and knees as punishment for being insubordinate. Mrs. Moore and Miss Adela had some sort of sympathy but they could not do much. On the contrary, due to some hallucinations and mental complexes Adela became instrumental to the cause of estrangement between the Indians and the English people.

      Main Stumbling Blocks. Personal relationships on a level of equality could not be encouraged due to the superiority complex of the Englishmen and the nationalistic sentiments of the Indians. Dr. Aziz hinted to Fielding that all attempts at friendly relations between them were bound to fail unless and until India became free. But the circumstances were such that even after the freedom of India it was doubtful whether the two races would enjoy amicable association and frequent close contacts. Skinheads and Powells would not allow it to take place.

      Internal Conflicts Among Indians. The religious ritualistic and cultural disparity among the various groups of people in India was also a hindrance to the free social intercourse amidst it. Dr. Aziz was as much anti-Hindu as he was anti-British. The Hindus did not freely mix with the Muslims. The orthodox among them were still adverse to a close alliance with each other. Riots on religious festival days were very common. The different castes among the Hindus suffered from internal rivalry so much so that they never agreed on any common program for public good irrespective of their castes and denominations. As Forster puts it "The fissures in the Indian Soil are infinite. Hinduism so solid from a distance is riven into sects and clans."

      The Breakdown of Aziz-Fielding Entente. If the Indians as a class cannot be friends with the English or vice versa, where was the difficulty for individuals to be friendly with each other? Fielding was exceptionally sympathetic to the Indian cause and he was free from racial arrogance and snobbery. This was appreciated by Aziz. The Englishman had closely observed Aziz and found him endowed with some sterling qualities. Hence he wanted to be his friend. The friendship between the two had a very promising beginning, but later on certain adverse factors pulled them apart. Rumors connecting Fielding with Adela did the mischief. This annoyed Aziz too much to desire to continue the friendship. The failure on a personal level got a twist and became an estrangement based on the nationalistic feelings because Fielding became a Government servant himself.

      Breakdown of Relationship among Europeans. The English bureaucrats also had their share of the collapse of personal friendships and associations due to other causes. The recantation of her charge of molestation against Aziz by Adela had the rational consequence of breaking the engagement of Ronny with her. Mrs. Moore becomes disgusted with her son Ronny and hastens her departure to England, culminating in her death en route. Fielding was not happy with his wife Stella who had inherited mystic bent of mind from Mrs. Moore. Mrs. McBryde had to divorce her husband due to his illicit relationship with Miss Derek. Thus the whole story is full of unsuccessful personal relationships.

      Gloomy Prospects all Around. There is an atmosphere of gloomy prospects with nothing to cheer us up in the entire novel, in addition to the unhappy state of affairs at the political level. Mrs. Moore brought some optimistic cheer in the early stage but it was short-lived. Miss Adela wanted to see the "real India" but it did not happen so because of some unfortunate incidents and irresponsible attitude on her past.

      A Streak of Hope. There is a note of optimism in the story although it is very feeble. The philosopher Godbole preaching universal love strikes a note of good hope and cheer. Infinite love of Krishna saved the world. All sorrows were annihilated irrespective of the fact that the sufferers were human beings or animals or wasps or other insects or even inanimate objects. His discourses on good and evil enable people to perceive everything with a cool head. Man should be tranquil at the times of crises. Imperturbability and serenity are the "sine qua non" for success in life. This calmness and carefree demeanor has the positive value of dispelling the gloominess due to discord, dissension and disparity and it brings some cheer to everyone and consolation even to the condemned.

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