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

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A Passage To India is "an interpretation of India, traditionally a land of mysteries and muddles, and an interpretation of its impact on individuals." Comment.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that the commentary on this statement about Forster's work will be a complex one.  On one level, I think that there is something about the statement that is absolutely valid.  Forster really does capitulate, to an extent, to the idea that "the muddle" which defines India is intrinsic to it.  Forster's work depicts Indians as ones who live in this muddle, becoming muddles themselves.  Godbole would embody this and even, Aziz, by the end of the narrative has become a muddle.  Interestingly enough, Aziz was not perceived to be a muddle at the start of the narrative when he was seeking to emulate and win favor with the English.  Only when he embraces his "Indianness" does he become a muddle.  Certainly, this viewpoint embraces the British conception of how India and Indians were viewed.  It can be seen that Forster capitulates to this in his work.

On the other side of this commentary would be an idea suggesting that Forster might be making a statement about what it means to be human.  Forster might be suggesting that "the muddle" is not India as much as what it means to be a human.  India is the place where the British, who believed in absolute certainty, were forced to confront the reality intrinsic to consciousness in that there is only "muddle."  British imposed law and order cannot figure out what happened in the caves.  It cannot explain why Mrs. Moore reacts the way it does, and it cannot fully articulate why Adela responds in the manner she does.  The "muddle" might not be India as much as what it means to be a human being, something that flies in the face of the totality and certainty that is advocated by British society.  I am not sure which case is more compelling, as both have elements of truth within them.  Yet, I think that this is where the "muddle" becomes critically important to the narrative, and this might be the only certainty evident.  There is only "the muddle."

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