Why can't the Indians and the British be friends?

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The British are the conquerors and the Indians are the subjugated culture in the society that Forster explores in A Passage to India. The British rule in India is based on racist ideology: the British justify ruling and exploiting the Indians on the assumption that the white race is superior to the Indians and that, therefore, they have the right to run the country.

Mrs. Turton tells Adela,

"You're superior to them [the Indians], anyway. Don't forget that."

It is hard, if not impossible, to genuinely be friends with people to whom you feel superior, or conversely, if you are on the "bottom," with people who, subtly or not, constantly convey that you are an inferior. Friendship assumes a rough equality, a mutual respect, and trust. The British and the Indians can relate on the basis of patronage—the more powerful British helping the less powerful Indians—or they can function in terms of a master/servant relationship, but racism, colonialism, mutual distrust, and stereotyped assumptions...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 665 words.)

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