E. M. Forster

A Passage to India (1921)

E. M. Forster 1879-1970

 

        Lost his father at a young age.

        Raised by mother and great-aunt.

        1901 graduated from Cambridge.

        1906 tutored then befriended Syed Ross Masood, an Indian Muslim

        1912 visited India for 1st time.

        1913-1921 worked on A Passage to India.

 

Plot

        Forster’s style is marked by his sympathy for his characters, his ability to see more than one side of an argument or story, and his fondness for simple, symbolic tales that neatly encapsulate large‑scale problems and conditions.

        It is a traditional social and political novel, unconcerned with the technical innovation of some of Forster’s modernist contemporaries such as Gertrude Stein or T.S. Eliot. A Passage to India is concerned, however, with representing the chaos of modern human experience through patterns of imagery and form.

        Miss Adela Quested and the elderly Mrs. Moore, travel to India. Adela expects to become engaged to Mrs. Moore’s son, Ronny, a British magistrate in the Indian city of Chandrapore.

        Aziz, a young Muslim doctor in India, is increasingly frustrated by the poor treatment he receives at the hands of the English.

        Aziz and two of his educated friends, Hamidullah and Mahmoud Ali, hold a lively conversation about whether or not an Indian can be friends with an Englishman in India.

        That night, Mrs. Moore and Aziz happen to run into each other while exploring a local mosque, and the two become friendly.

        Adela meets Cyril Fielding, the principal of the government college in Chandrapore. Fielding, impressed with Adela’s open friendliness to the Indians, invites her and Mrs. Moore to tea with him and the Hindu professor Godbole. At Adela’s request, Fielding invites Aziz to tea as well.

        Adela tells Ronny that she has decided not to marry him. But that night, the two are in a car accident together, and the excitement of the event causes Adela to change her mind about the marriage.

        Aziz organizes an expedition to the nearby Marabar Caves for those who attended Fielding’s tea. Fielding and Professor Godbole miss the train to Marabar, so Aziz continues on alone with the two ladies, Adela and Mrs. Moore.

        Back in Chandrapore, however, Aziz is unexpectedly arrested. He is charged with attempting to rape Adela Quested while she was in the caves, a charge based on a claim Adela herself has made.

        Mrs. Moore dies on the voyage back to England, but not before she realizes that there is no “real India”—but rather a complex multitude of different Indias.

        At Aziz’s trial, Adela, under oath, is questioned about what happened in the caves. Shockingly, she declares that she has made a mistake: Aziz is not the person or thing that attacked her in the cave.

        Fielding begins to respect Adela, recognizing her bravery in standing against her peers to pronounce Aziz innocent. Ronny breaks off his engagement to Adela, and she returns to England.

        Aziz, however, is angry that Fielding would befriend Adela after she nearly ruined Aziz’s life, and the friendship between the two men suffers as a consequence.

        Aziz, however, is angry that Fielding would befriend Adela after she nearly ruined Aziz’s life, and the friendship between the two men suffers as a consequence.

        Two years later, Aziz has become the chief doctor to the Rajah of Mau, a Hindu region several hundred miles from Chandrapore.

        Hearing that Fielding married Adela, Aziz now virulently hates all English people. But it turns out that Fielding married not Adela Quested, but Stella Moore, Mrs. Moore’s daughter from her second marriage.

        Aziz tells Fielding that once the English are out of India, the two will be able to be friends. Fielding asks why they cannot be friends now, when they both want to be, but the sky and the earth seem to say “No, not yet. . . . No, not there.”

 

Taken from: http://www.sparknotes.com