A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

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How is the theme of separation represented in A Passage to India?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are several ways to read the theme of separation in Forster's work.  In my mind, the most evident theme of separation is that of cultural distance between the Indians and the British.  Due to colonization and the notion that Indian was occupied by the British, there is a natural separation between both cultures.  Forster spends a great deal of time and text explaining that there is a fundamental difference or chasm between both cultures.  It is not Kipling's "East vs. West" idea as much as it is that there is a separation of worlds between them.  There are individuals who try to bridge this gulf, but it is a separation of worlds.

Another level of separation is the spiritual distance that exists between characters in the novel.  One of the most complex elements in the novel is the idea of being spiritually separated from a temporal view of the universe.  Certainly, Godbole, representing the Hindu faith, would speak to this.  There is an idea that Indian spirituality and its notions represent a separation from this particular realm of existence.  Forster does not really depict this in a stereotypical way as much as showing its impact on his characters.  The cave represents this.  When Adela and Aziz enter the cave recall how he describes the moment:  "A match is struck and the sound creates two flames that for a moment touch and then are separated forever." This description connotes the idea that in the cave, where darkness and imperceptibility reign, there is a separation from the world and the...

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