Discuss Miss Quested's accusation of rape against Dr. Aziz in A Passage to India.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Miss Quested's accusation of rape is one of the most critical elements of Forster's novel.  On one level, I think that the most literal understanding of the novel could center on the rape accusation as being critically important to the novel.  On another level, the rape accusation can be seen as fitting the larger context of the novel's statement about cultural relationships between the Indians and the British.  The ambiguity surrounding exactly happened in the caves between Aziz and Miss Quested helps to bring out the very insecurity and doubt that lies at the heart of British imperialism.  With the collision of value and perception systems so brazenly evident in such a context, there is nothing but vagueness, as everything can be interpreted in a variety of ways.  Certainty is impossible in this context.  From a historical or political point of view, Forster might be seeking to bring this out that one of the challenges of imperialism is that actions can constantly be seen from the point of view of the oppressor or the oppressed and little in way of absolutism is present when both value systems collide with one another.  This cannot but help itself interject in the interpersonal dynamics between individuals.  Forster might be making the assertion that when a social or political system is subject to such question or such ambiguity, the very relationships that exist between individuals can also be called into question.  Certainty on a personal level is also impossible when so much about social and political orders are called into question.   Much like the Marabar Caves themselves, shrouded in mystery, Forster might be making the point that the political setting of imperialism did much to undermine the very fabric of individual relationships, evident in the fact that she is confused about her relationship with Ronny and he harbors resentment towards her even after she recants.  This is why the actions between Aziz and Quested are so unclear.  These actions represent more than just two people, even though they exist between only two people.

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