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

Start Your Free Trial

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

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write10,925 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

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.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

eadescharles14 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write35 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial