What passage or passages from the novel A Passage to India are good illustrations of how the author handles narration, point of view, and perspective to contribute to the overall meaning of the novel?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The incident in the mosque in chapter 2 provides a very good illustration of how Forster handles narration, point of view, and perspective. While staying in a third-person omniscient narration, the author provides Dr. Aziz's perspective first as he sits alone in the mosque after having been treated shabbily by the Englishwomen who took his carriage and after having been brushed off by Mr. Callendar. Sitting alone in the mosque, far from English people, Dr. Aziz thinks:

But the mosque—that alone signified, and he returned to it from the complex appeal of the night, and decked it with meanings the builder had never intended. Some day he too would build a mosque, smaller than this but in perfect taste, so that all who passed by should experience the happiness he felt now.

Dr. Aziz finds the mosque to be a refuge away from English people. It is a place where he can feel safe and not feel like a second-class citizen. Forster conveys Dr. Aziz's perspective and feelings. 

Later, when Dr. Aziz sees Mrs. Moore, an Englishwoman, in the mosque, he feels that she is violating the sacred space of the mosque. However, he grows to like her, as Forster conveys in the following passage:

He was excited partly by his wrongs, but much more by the knowledge that someone sympathized with them. It was this that led him to repeat, exaggerate, contradict. She had proved her sympathy by criticizing her fellow country woman to him, but even earlier he had known. The flame that not even beauty can nourish was springing up, and though his words were querulous his heart began to glow secretly.

The author conveys Dr. Aziz's warmth toward Mrs. Moore as she criticizes the Callendars. He has an unexpected connection with Mrs. Moore because she is willing to criticize a fellow English person in the company of an Indian person.

In the next chapter, Forster, while staying in the third person, is able to capture Mrs. Moore's perspective on the incident in the mosque after she speaks about it with her son: 

The note of anxiety in his voice made her feel that he was still a little boy, who must have what he liked, so she promised to do as he wished, and they kissed good night. He had not forbidden her to think about Aziz, however, and she did this when she retired to her room. In the light of her son's comment she reconsidered the scene at the mosque, to see whose impression was correct. Yes, it could be worked into quite an unpleasant scene.

After speaking with her son, Mrs. Moore feels uncomfortable about sharing confidences with Dr. Aziz. The author is able to capture both Dr. Aziz's and Mrs. Moore's perspective on the incident in the mosque. 

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A Passage to India

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