Ronny Heaslop: Character Analysis in A Passage To India

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      Ronny Heaslop represents the official class or what Forster described as the "Public School" type. Ronny was devoted and conscientious about his duty. He was honest and sincere as far as the British Raj was concerned. He could sacrifice his own interests for the sake of the British rule. He was content to live like all other Englishmen scattered in different parts of the Empire. He confirmed strictly to the rules framed by the English society of Chandrapore.

A Staunch Imperialist

      In England, he was just and fair-minded. His opinions and deeds were masked by moderation and balance. His stay in India had, however, changed his character. He had become a confirmed imperialist. He felt that his main business in India was to maintain peace for the safety of the British empire. India was a part of the British empire and not a "drawing room" where he was expected to be soft and kind to the natives. The Englishmen conclude that Ronny had become a 'pacca sahib'. The English ladies think that he should not marry Adela Quested

He Disliked Indians

      He criticized his mother Mrs. Moore for making friendly approaches to Dr. Aziz. He was convinced that Indians were unreliable and selfish. Once he had invited the pleader Mahmoud Ali to smoke with him, but the latter made it known that he was very thick with the Magistrate and managed to attract more clients in this way. After that, Ronny never invited any Indian to his house. He did not like Aziz's impudence in shouting at her mother at the mosque to take off her shoes. He was angry with him and wanted to report to Callendar. Mrs. Moore, his mother, however, persuaded him to desist from such an action.

He Believed in the White Man's Burden

      Like all other Englishmen, he, too, believed in the whiteman's mission. The Englishmen had come to India not to rule only. They had come with a good mission. It was their job to civilize the natives who were wild, crude and rude. He was insensitive to his mother's appeal that Indians were also the children of God who created all humanity. He did not relish the intrusion of God in all and sundry matters.

His Conception of Love

      Love was not a passion with him. 'Official duty first and love afterwards' was what he thought. His love was a commonplace affair. Ronny's love for Adela was not well marked. Even during their courtship he exhibited no strong feelings towards her. He preferred to remain contained and reserved. He allowed her (Adela) to marry him. When out of disgust Adela declared that she could not marry Ronny, he took it calmly and patiently. Later on, when their hands touched in the car, she declared that she would marry Ronny. He became complacent and pleased. His love was also of an official type. His main concern was to see whether she would fit into the conventional and artificial way of English life. After the trial scene he decided not to marry Adela as that would impede his promotional interest.

His Treatment of His Mother

      He did not approve of his mother's attitude towards the Indians. His mother criticized him for becoming insensitive to human beings. He did not accept that the Indians were equal to the Englishmen. His religion was not Christianity that preached brotherhood and equality. His religion was the religion of an official whose God was the British power. After the Marabar Caves incident, he became skeptical of her mother's attitude towards the whole episode. Fearing that she might damage the British cause, he sent her away to England. He expressed regrets at her death and failed to realize his own fault. Rather he held her responsible for all that happened. He could not forgive his mother for her emotional involvement with the Indians. He expressed disgust at the defilement of his mother by the Indians.

Sociable and Affable

      As regards his own countrymen, he was quite sociable. He used to go to the club regularly and believed in behaving like a gentleman with his compatriots. All the courtesy that he possessed was meant for his own community. The cave incident made him a hero. The hard-instinct overpowered him and he wanted Aziz to be punished for violating the modesty of an English girl who also happened to be engaged to him.


      He may be a flat character but not without a few redeeming features. He may be caricature but he is not without surprises. Sometimes, he tries to rise to heights, though he comes down soon. During the trial scene, he supported his subordinate Mr. Das and demonstrated his concern for fair play. He did not suppress the free and frank opinion of Miss Adela. He exhibited remarkable self-control even at the moment of personal frustration. Anyhow, comparatively speaking, he cannot be called completely a flat character.

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