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

Start Your Free Trial

Talk about Indians' traditions and habits as shown in  A Passage to India.

Expert Answers info

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Many of the traditions that Forster addresses are fundamentally distinctive of Indians, while many of the habits are sadly universal.  One such "Indian" habit that Forster addresses is the inability to overcome social division.  When Mrs. Moore suggests that India is a "muddle," it is clear that this is reflective of an Indian social habit.  Both Hindus and Muslims are unable to interact effectively with the British.  There might be a variety of reasons for this having to do with oppression and control.  Yet, part of it seems to be a social awkwardness that is a habit in Indian social graces.  Aziz embodies this.  His habits of awkwardness are on display with Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested.  The invitation to the Marabar Caves and "what happened" there are the results of social awkwardness.  Aziz's habit of social awkwardness extends to his relative discomfort in being around Hindus, something seen in the end when he sees himself as a stranger in a Hindu state.  From a general point of view, Indians in the novel embody this habit of social awkwardness in how they are unable to interact with both the British and one another.  Forster is able to broaden this habit of being socially awkward to include the British, as well.  Yet, it is something evident in the Indian habits shown in the novel.

The socially awkward muddle that is Indian social grace might be offset by how Forster depicts the Indian tradition of religion.  For example, while there is "muddle" and confusion in terms of how Indians interact socially, the rebirth of Krishna, the unifying principles of Hinduism's acceptance, the equality of "Boum" in the cave, and the dominance of religion as a tradition helps to establish a sense of clarity in a setting where there is social muddle.  This might be deliberate on Forster's part, in showing how the Indian tradition of religion can bridge social awkwardness.  For example, the festivities regarding the Birth of Lord Krishna seem to silence social awkwardness.  The world of Indian social habits is far from clear.  The world of Indian religious tradition is lucid in its presence, continuing on since time has been recorded.  This might be where the "muddle" could be seen as potentially addressed.   

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial