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

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A Passage to India examines racial misunderstanding. Elaborate.

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This great book clearly comments on the massive gulf separating the English from the Indians, and the way that even those who try to bridge that gulf find it impossible, such as Fielding in his friendship with Aziz. The novel contains many examples of how the English consistently misunderstand those around them, often in a way that makes reading about them uncomfortable for the 21st century reader. This is evident perhaps most clearly in the Bridge Party that the Turtons throw in order to try and "bridge the gulf between East and West." However, it merely serves to highlight how completely separate the Indians and the English are, and attempts made to bridge that gulf only serve to underline this yet further. For example, when Adela tries to talk to the Indian women, she is told, very firmly, by Mrs Turton:

You're superior to them, anyway. Don't forget that. You're superior to every one in India except one or two of the Ranis, and they're on an equality.

Such arrogance is further foregrounded when Mrs Turton responds sarcastically to the information that the Indian women speak English. Again and again in this novel, characters try to reach out to bridge the gulf, but the failure of these efforts is a result of racial misunderstanding, as the arrogance of the English prevents any relationship to be developed with the Indians. Forster thus exposes the problems of colonialism and how it created an inequality of power that proved impossible to overcome.  

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