E.M. Forster's A Passage to India is set at the beginning of the twentieth century, while India is still under British control. Many English officers, aristocrats, and thier upper-class families have transplanted their way of life, somewhat unsuccessfully, to the tropical Indian territory. There is a sharp divide along racial lines, with Christian-Moslem-Hindu clashes and differences in etiquette and culture adding to the tension.
The protagonist is the widowed Dr. Aziz, an idealistic, youngish Indian man who has befriended some of the occupying English. When Adele Quested, a naive and homely British woman, arrives in India to visit her fiance, Dr. Aziz feels compelled to be hospitable. He takes Adele and several other British visitors on a tour of the Marabar Caves. The caves are dark and stifling; some of the guests become disoriented. Dr. Aziz comes out of one cave to see Adele running away down the cliffs and afterward learns that she has accused him of assaulting her in the cave's darkness.
The ensuing trial of Dr. Aziz galvanizes the British and Indian populations and does terrible damage to the already strained relations between the groups.
This report prepared by Jacqueline West