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

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What is one instance of symbolism in A Passage to India?

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In A Passage to India the Marabar caves symbolize the forces of nature and the power they exert upon the soul. There is something at once terrifying and sublime about these ancient rock formations, something that forces visitors—especially English visitors such as Adela and Mrs. Moore—to confront a previously unexplored spiritual side, one which they had largely neglected.

Exploring the caves is a metaphor for the exploration of one's soul, one's whole spiritual being. And in exploring both, Adela and Mrs. Moore come to see themselves as part of a fundamental unity, in which everyone and everything is linked together. Here, the differences of the phenomenal world—between men and women, Indian and British—no longer apply. All meaning as previously understood dissolves, forcing Adela and Mrs. Moore to wake up to the unreality of their daily lives in the world outside the caves.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the most prominent symbols in A Passage to India, one that dominates section one of the book's three sections, is the mosque. The mosque of India represents a place of sanctuary and peace. The mosque is particularly important to two Characters, Aziz and Mrs. Moore. At one point, Mrs. Moore is at the Chandrapore club watching an English play called "Cousin Kate." She finds the play boring and inappropriate and can no longer stay in the audience.

She leaves and wanders to the mosque. Mrs. Moore recognizes the mosque as the genuine India and in contrast with the artifice of British customs imposed on the rhythm of India. It is in the mosque that the symbolic meeting of India and England takes place in the form of Aziz's and Mrs. Moore's first meeting, which occurs in the mosque in the moonlight.

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