Why are the Marabar caves so important in Forster's A Passage to India?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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On a simple level, the Marabar Caves are the setting of the crucial event in A Passage to India, Adela's accusation that Dr Aziz has sexaully assaulted her. Adela's charge against Aziz makes racial tensions hidden under the hypocritical coat of respectability of imperial institutions come out in the open. In the trial that follows the characters' allegiances are severely tested. Yet, on a more complex level, the Marabar are not a mere setting, but have symbolic overtones. With their echo, they can be taken as a symbol of distortion. It is in the Marabar caves that Adela distorts reality; it is their echo that makes Mrs Moore aware that her image of India and the image of the Empire is a distorted one. The caves are also a symbol of the unconscious in the human psyche as they release in Adela all her repressed fears.

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