The story is about the 'muddle' created due to the conflict between the Western values and the mystical Indian spirituality in colonial India. The story is about the main protagonist Dr. Aziz, a Indian Muslim widower who is as impulsive in his speech as he is in his actions. The story is set in chandrapore, a small town in colonial India.
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Coincidentally, Dr. Aziz befriends Mrs Moore, who is visiting India to meet her son Ronny Heaslop, when Aziz meets her one night in the local mosque. Mrs Moore has respect for the native customs and a liking for the native culture which leads Dr. Aziz to remark at one point that she is "an oriental". Later, at a tea party organized by Cyril Fielding, the Headmaster of a government run school in Chandrapore, Dr. Aziz offers to take the British visitors to the mystical caves known as Marabar Caves.
In an unfortunate turn of events at the excursion, Dr. Aziz gets into the center of a racial tension between the British and the Indians when he is accused of a failed rape attempt by Miss Adela, the young British Headmistress who, along with Mrs Moore, is visiting Ronnie Heaslop, the local British collector whom she plans to marry.
Dr. Aziz has a loyal friend in the British Teacher, Cyril Fielding, who truly believes in the innocence of Dr. Aziz. Mrs Moore is also convinced that Dr. Aziz has committed no crime. Meanwhile Adela, who is confused with her encounter with the ambiguous Indian spirituality withdraws her complaint against Aziz and admits that she was confused with the events that took place in the dark Marabar caves. Even though Aziz is acquitted of the crime, his friendship with Fielding suffers when Fielding befriends Adela after the trial. Soon after, Fielding leaves for England,
Two years later, Dr. Aziz meets his old friend Fielding in India. Fielding has married Stella, Mrs Moore's daughter from her second marriage. However, even the nature, the earth and the sky, seem to indicate that the two races cannot meet "yet", not till India is a free country.
Best part of story, including ending:
The trip to Marabar caves is the journey of an outsider into the world of Indian spiritualism, which is so hard to unfathom. The ending is appropriate, showing the 'wide' that will always remain between the two cultures.
Best scene in story:
When Godbole, the Hindu Brahmin meets Fielding when the trial is underway. Godbole is aware of the turn of events but still asks Fielding if the expedition was a success. He gives Fielding the most important lesson of Hindu spirituality, that of 'karma'. No matter what we do, the outcome will always be the same, since it is already pre-decided. The only thing in our hands is our own action, our own 'karma'.
Opinion about the main character:
Dr Aziz is impulsive, emotional and trusting, quite the quintessential Indian who is always eager to please a guest, and lets down his guards in the process.
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.
The review of this Book prepared by Jacqueline West