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A Passage to India examines the cultural hypocrisies of the British in India. Elaborate.

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sallysal1987 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:40 AM via web

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A Passage to India examines the cultural hypocrisies of the British in India. Elaborate.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:20 AM (Answer #1)

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This novel acts as a powerful investigation into the reality behind the myth of the "white man's burden," which is the phrase that Kipling used to describe the vital need that Englishmen had to live and rule in places such as India. The core belief behind such acts was that Indians needed the English in order to develop them and improve their lot in life. The cultural hypocrisy that is exposed in this novel is that the English treat the Indians with contempt and therefore as being incapable of improving themselves. This is something that is highlighted by contrasting the views of Mr and Mrs Turton, who throw the disastrous Bridge Party in order to try and "bridge the gulf between East and West." During this party Mrs Turton reveals a stereotypical view of English arrogance by stating to Mrs Moore and Adela Quested that they are socially superior to almost every Indian in the country. Mr Turton, however, is not able to share his wife's contempt:

He replied in an odd, sad, voice, "I don't hate them, I don't know why," and he didn't hate them; for if he did, he would have had to condemn his own career as a bad investment.

For Mr. Turton, if he did hate them, he would have had to have acknowledged that his whole career based around "improving the native" was fake and that he has wasted his life. The cultural hypocrisy that is evident in this novel therefore is expressed through the contempt of the Indians shown by so many of the British characters, which in turn reveals that their very reason for being in India has no basis. The colonial project is revealed to be something of a sham, based on pretence and illusion.

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