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Forster's A Passage to India - Essay Example

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The novel 'A Passage to India' is set in colonial times and depicts relations between the English and the Indians at a time when Indian nationalism was still at a nascent stage. The story unfolds mainly in a small place called Chandrapore, situated on the banks of the holy Ganges River, whose only other attraction is the nearby Marabar Caves…
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Forster's A Passage to India

Download file to see previous pages... Moore's son from her first marriage, Ronny Heaslop, the City Magistrate at Chandrapore, a typical condescending bureaucrat to whom Angela Quested is engaged.
Mrs. Moore is a sensitive woman, intelligent and having an open mind, taking a liberal view of affairs even while adhering to old-fashioned Christian values and ideals. In contrast, Adela Quested is inquisitive in nature but in a purely intellectual, and academic manner, with no real concern for the land or its people. The story revolves primarily around Dr Aziz, a Muslim doctor, generous and loving towards his British acquaintances but who becomes embittered when falsely accused by Angela. Angela Quested herself, who is plain and prig, but generally a decent person, and Cyril Fielding, the school master of the Government College at Chandrapore, who sets great store on his personal set of core values, sense of justice and propriety ruled more by intellect than by love or emotion. He is a loyal friend, however, and sticks by Aziz despite their racial differences and pressure from the British.
Yet, the shadow of Mrs. Moore looms large not only on the characters and their subsequent actions but also on the entire story itself. Mrs. Moore who is a symbol of Christian decency is nevertheless anxious about her own mortality, being advanced in age, and it is this anxiety that gets the better of her. It makes her vulnerable to the sort of external influences that are likely to be encountered in India, particularly the India of a century ago, driven by ritual, faith and superstition. Mrs. Moore thus serves as the novel's moral conscience, a woman of exemplary behaviour and intention towards others, even to the extent of reminding her own son Ronny Heaslop of Christian values. Her righteous mind-set however, makes her the victim of others' less stringent values, while her faith in Christianity is tested in the non-Christian environment of the Indian sub-continent.

The novel really picks up pace after a picnic to the nearby Marabar caves, a set of caves, one much like the other. Dr Aziz plans a trip to the Caves for Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested. Dr Aziz and Mrs. Moore have struck up a friendship once Dr Aziz realizes that Mrs. Moore is a genuine person with whom he has much in common, including the fact that both are widowed and have three children. At the time he picnic is planned, Mrs. Moore is feeling particularly depressed as she is facing a spiritual crisis and is lacking in confidence in any ultimate spiritual comfort or salvation. The trip to the caves thus becomes a center of ambiguity both as far as he plot is concerned on account of the events that take place there, as well as in metaphysical terms on account of the spiritual effect on Mrs. Moore. In one of the caves, Mrs. Moore gets separated from Adela and Aziz in the darkness and is touched by something on her face. She doesn't know what hit her and all she can hear is the haunting echoes inside the caves. Latr, even when she tries to relax, by composing a letter to her children, she is too distracted by the "boum" echoes of the cave, which begin to take a hold on her life:

"But suddenly, at the edge of her mind, Religion appeared, poor little talkative Christianity, and she knew that all its divine words from 'Let there be light' to 'It is finished' only amounted to 'boum" (Chapter 14, p 161).

Following the mysterious incident at the caves, he mercurial and charming Dr ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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A passage to India
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