E.M. Forster's novels, including "A Passage to India," are astute observations of the role economic class has long played in British society. That role extended to British administration of its colonies, especially its most valued colony, India. By placing his story in a British-administered colony, Forster was able to inject a strong racial tone into the proceedings. "A Passage to India" takes place during a period of increasing restiveness on the part of the Indian population over its occupation by Great Britain.
The rape case at the center of the story allowed for the racial disparities that existed in British colonies to be fully examined during a time when questioning the morality of the British Empire was rare among Englishmen. Racial prejudice was an intregal part of empire-building, and Forster's novel represented an unique look at the depths to which racism played a part in colonization.