Depiction of India: in A Passage To India

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      Every careful reader will discern the serious atmosphere in the novel. There is less beauty, less poetry, and less wit in this novel in comparison with his other novels. It does not deal with the fate of a select few Indians. It deals with the whole of India, that is why the setting is in India.

      The city of Chandrapore is a mini India, highlighting the problem created by the mixing of two races. The town itself provides a contrast of amorphous mudflats amidst tropical vegetation making the outlines indistinct, and the civil station of the British that is neat and clean. The British lack in imagination. They are cold, intelligent but colorless like their civil stations. They learn that everything in India fuses and changes, India has all the variety of nature and all its inconsistencies. Whatever order there is, it is difficult to be understood by an alien man.

Difficulty of Communication

      The men and women of Chandrapore find it difficult to communicate as they are caught between nature's limitless boundaries and man's strictly limited spheres. Aziz fails to make contact with Godbole. Mrs. Moore is unable to explain her ideas about God to Ronny. The Bridge Party fails in its objective of rapprochement between the Indians and the Englishman. Adela fails to understand the Indians. She displeases everyone i.e. her community, and Lady Moore, Aziz and upto a certain extent even Fielding. Even Aziz and Fielding find it difficult to come closer or to reach perfect understanding. The Indians are divided; the English are divided, the failure of communication is heightened when Aziz, during his illness is visited by his friends. Suspicions and arguments repeat themselves again.

Mosque, Caves and Temple

      The three sections into which the book is divided might be liable to different interpretations but we are to accept the one given by Forster himself. Mosque, Caves and Temple represent three seasons of the Indian year i.e. cold weather, the hot weather and the rains. The Marabar Caves come in the middle as - the hot weather does.

      The Marabar Caves are the, middle portion of the book. Forster takes much help from geography to describe the formation of the caves. Humanity seems to be an insignificant portion in eternity. These caves represent the mystery that India usually is. What happens in the Marabar caves no one knows. Even Adela who lodges the report with the police does not know what actually happened inside the cave. An animal dashed into a car at dusk. What type of an animal was it? Was it the ghost of this slain man as the Nawab Bahadur thought? Nothing was identifiable in India. Even Mrs. Moore became an enigma. She was not understood by her son, and by Adela, by Fielding etc. She was turned into a goddess by the Indians. Forster wrote of the numerous unexplored caves, "nothing, nothing would be added to the sum of good or evil". The echo inside the cave 'Bourn' troubled both Mrs. Moore and Adela. Nothing seemed real or had any meaning. There was only silence, lack of fulfillment or failure. The echo was devoid of distinction and its hearing terrified Lady Moore. She found it difficult to communicate with anyone and became cynically indifferent.

      In the third part, we see an attempt at the combination of Hindu mysticism with Western detachment. Religion becomes the response of total personality and in its spirit people are able to love each other.

Profound Scepticism

      The atmosphere was charged with profound skepticism tempered by a vague confidence that things would turn out right in the end. Forster's refusal to be taken in by the humbug, gives the novel its continuous feeling of delicacy.

      Many of the characters are intellectually conceived. A Philistine is said to hold enlightened views Sir Gilbert Mallenly, the Lieutenant Governor, expressed such views.

Diversity of Indian Life

      The fissures in the Indian soil were infinite. The Britishers and the Indians were divided; Muslims and Hindus stood apart; even Hindus were divided amongst themselves. India is a vast country inhabited by a diverse population. In the last ride Aziz and Fielding passed through a jungle. The divisions of daily life were returning and the diverse spirit of India prevailed.

      The scene of the Mosque was the beginning of an attempt to reconcile the East and the West. The Muslim mind was tried to be understood. Mrs. Moore thought that Aziz represented India, which was a wrong conception. Aziz could not represent India as there were many religions, languages and classes.

      The dramatic impact to the story is furnished by an Indian setting. The Janamashtami scene reflects hope. The all-inclusiveness of the Hindus might solve the problem. The universalism of the Hindus might break the barriers of artificial impediments.

      On the whole, the element of sanity pervades the whole book enriched by frequent flashes of wit and humor. "It keeps our feet firmly planted on earth while helping our imagination to range far and wide."


What aspects of an Indian's character are revealed in A Passage to India?
Has Forster been able to give us a convincing picture of the oriental mind in A Passage to India?
Has E.M. Forster been fair in his depiction of India in his novel A Passage to India?
Write a critical note on the picture of India, as presented in A Passage to India by Forster and comment on its truth.
Sketch briefly Forster's view of India and show how far it is objective and real.

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