A Passage to India Questions and Answers
by E. M. Forster

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Forster's Philosophy of Life in A Passage to India In A Passage to India Forster seems to have lost his faith in human relations as sole remedy against human ills. His love for human beings is shaken though not lost. His love has become thinner with a tinge of good-humoured distrust. We shall have to make a study of Fielding in this connection. Fielding was a sensible and good natured man with a clear understanding of all fundamental things of life. But he lacked in emotion or intimacy with other human beings. His affection for Aziz, though important, did not stand the strain of misunderstandings. As regards Adela, he understood her, even respected her but didnot symathise with her, nor did he show affection for her. He called her a prig and did not consider her fit for marriage. Here he appears to be cynical or unduly proud. As a matter of fact, he looked upon human beings against a background of an immense void representing the past and the future, and as a consequence, life was reduced to insignificance. It may mean that godness and kindness have limits. It points out the essential loneliness and isolation of the individual soul. Forester's early writings reveal that he had a very strong faith in humanism. He has kept aloft the humanitarian ideal and has strongly denounced conventionality and orthodoxy. But this humanitarian feeling has shown a declining trend with the passage of time.

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Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The implicit question in the text seems to be concerned with the relationship between E. M. Forster's philosophy of life and how it is expressed through the character of Cecil Fielding. Forster's outlook was decidedly humanist, but he viewed British society through a critical lens. One reason for the enduring appeal of his novels is his ability to create memorable characters in complex situations from which they cannot easily be extricated because of social repression and personal features. That is, his novels are not simply social commentary populated with stereotypes chosen just to prove the author's point.

Forster was acutely aware of the challenges that people face who are seen as "different." He confronted the problems of fitting in, both because he was gay and through his experience in the British foreign service in India. While A Passage to India is set in India and includes the racial and cultural dynamics, his novels set in Britain are equally trenchant commentaries on injustice and hypocrisy, focusing on class.

Aziz, Fielding, and Adela Quested are all outsiders to some degree. They all share a kernel of romantic idealism about Anglo-Indian relations. As a representative of British colonial interests, Fielding must be complicit in the British community's condemnation of Aziz, even as he realistically knows he is powerless to stop the machinery of "justice" once it gains momentum. While he can—and does—leave India knowing he can continue his career back home, Aziz is trapped, and his career is ruined. Adela's naivetë is her protection, and she too can at least partly recover back in England.

Although Fielding and Aziz were friends, they were not equals. The structural inequality built into the British colonial system made such equality impossible, as its very foundation was British superiority. Their arrogant belief in their system of justice is especially ironic, as it is mercilessly wielded as a weapon to destroy Aziz.

Although the novel was published more than two decades before India's independence, the postcolonial concept of "mimicry" applies to Aziz's dilemma: partly adopting European ways was of limited value, and his pride in his country's heritage contributed to his downfall.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Perhaps, the answer to Forster's philosophy to existence lives inside the cave.  The darkness, the nothingness, the everythingness seemed to envelop much for Forster.  Inside the cave, everyone is equal, everyone is the same.  The social conditions that laud the British and put down the Indians disappear.  The economic stratification that divides rich and poor also dissipates.  Everyone is subject to the same experience:  BOUM.  That is the sound all hear, the sensation all experience, and the only place where there is true equality.  Irony that it is the setting for the trial in terms of what happened in there.  This might be why the mystery of the caves remains an enigma, the trial is inconclusive, and the experience of pure equality leaves some scared, and opens new worlds of perception for others.

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