Would it be right to say that Forster's treatment of the Indian landscape suggests a passage away from India rather than to it in A Passage to India?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there might need to be q couple of points that need to be examined further in the original question.  The idea of "the Indian Landscape" needs more clarity.  If we are suggesting that "the Indian Landscape" means "India," in the most broad sense, I am not sure Forster or us will be able to make clear sense of it.  Forster is acute enough to understand that "India" is a collection of identities, and that there is not "one" notion of India.  Part of what makes the British he shows in the novel so difficult in terms of their understanding of India is that they refuse to understand that there are different elements or facets to India.  They still view India as a monistic entity, capable of only one notion of the good.  This makes "the Indian Landscape" difficult for the British to appropriate and to understand.  At the same time, I think that Forster uses the image of the journey to help convey his own opinions about India.  The idea of "a passage" indicates a voyage in which there are many different elements or components within it.  This journey sometimes moves towards India, sometimes moves away from it.  Perhaps, Forster was embracing the modernist idea that there is a "shift" in the idea of what human relations are evident in understanding a place like India.  The difficulty lies in understanding such comprehension as a voyage, the idea that there is a movement towards and away, sometimes alternating and sometimes simultaneous in what it means to be "India."  In this and through this, Forster's vision is a challenging one, similar to India, itself.

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