E. M. Forster

Start Your Free Trial

"Naked I came in to the world, naked I shall go out of it! And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I'm naked under my shirt, whatever its color." What did Edward Morgan Forster mean by these...

"Naked I came in to the world, naked I shall go out of it! And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I'm naked under my shirt, whatever its color." What did Edward Morgan Forster mean by these words?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write9,572 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Forster's recognizing his vulnerability and humility as a human being. Doing so keeps him firmly grounded. After all, if you remind yourself that, underneath your clothes, you're as naked as anyone else, then it becomes much less likely that you'll develop an ego.

Psychologists often recommend that when you attend a job interview, you should imagine that your interviewers are naked. This is supposed to make the whole process seem much less scary, as it drags those rather intimidating-looking people sitting on the other side of the desk down to your level. And Forster appears to be making much the same point, except that he's urging us to climb down from the exalted level to which we, in our arrogance, so often raise ourselves.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Without doing much research on this quote as far as its context, it seems that Forster is making a comment about his place in the world and a reminder to remain a humble being.  We are born naked...nothing under which to hide but vulnerable, cold, and perhaps a bit scared.  When we die, although our family's will undoubtedly clothe us for the funeral, those clothes remain on earth.  This is very much like the old adage, "You can't take it with you," in regards to anything earthly.  So, in essence, we leave the world the same way we came in...naked.  "And a very good thing, too, for it reminds me that I'm naked under my shirt whatever its color" makes me think he is reminding himself that the wearing of clothes does not hide who he really is and how he should be for others.  Remain humble, courteous, and treat others as he would have them treat him.  So, ultimately, his nakedness at birth and death reminds him to be the same during life...not to hide behind clothing, wealth, position, success...just be a humble creature on God's earth.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial