A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India Summary

A Passage to India is a novel by E.M. Forster in which Aziz, a Muslim man, struggles to make friends with the English. He invites a group of them out to explore the Marabar Caves.

  • Aziz attempts to bridge the cultural gap between Muslims and British people by inviting a number of British people to explore the Marabar Caves.

  • Miss Quested, a British woman, accuses Aziz of making sexual advances toward her.

  • Aziz is arrested, but found innocent. Years later, Fielding, Miss Quested's former fiance, visits Aziz. They attempt a friendship, but cannot sustain it because of the social circumstances in India.


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Last Updated on April 25, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 676

A Passage to India is set in the city of Chandrapore. The initial segment, titled Mosque, features a group of Muslim friends conversing about the challenges of forging friendships their British overlords. A surgeon named Dr. Aziz is among the group and later has a significant encounter with Mrs. Moore in a mosque. The mosque exchange strengthens their bond, and Mrs. Moore introduces Dr. Aziz to a younger friend, Miss Quested, who is planning to marry Mrs. Moore's son Ronny.

Numerous efforts are undertaken to foster understanding between the Indians and the British including a clumsy, hybrid "bridge-party" at the English Club; Aziz's short-lived camaraderie with a junior officer during a polo game; and a unique gathering featuring the Muslim Aziz, Hindu Professor Godbole, Mrs. Moore, and Mrs. Quested at a tea party hosted by Fielding. The tea party's relative success encourages Aziz to extend an invitation to everyone in attendance to join him on a forthcoming trip to the Marabar Caves.

Miss Quested initially chooses not to marry Ronny Heaslop, but later reconsiders and the two become engaged. Miss Quested and Ronny are involved in a car accident which ultimately strengthens their bond and leads them to share the news of their engagement with Mrs. Moore. Meanwhile, at an event attended by Aziz, Dr. Panna Lal, and others, underlying tensions between Muslims and Hindus surface, despite the appearance of courtesy and decorum being maintained.

In the second section, The Caves, Aziz's journey to the Marabar Caves begins. Fielding and Professor Godbole are delayed, leaving Aziz to accompany the two women alone. Mrs. Moore becomes disoriented in the caves and leaves, while Aziz and Miss Quested continue. However, after an irritating question from Miss Quested, Aziz goes into another cave. Upon leaving, he sees her far away and makes up a story when Fielding, who has just arrived, inquires about her. Back in Chandrapore, Aziz is arrested on Miss Quested's accusation of attempting to "insult" her in the caves, a term that implies a sexual advance or assault.

The British community is outraged and incensed and Aziz is denied bail. Fielding's efforts to converse with Adela Quested prove unsuccessful. Mrs. Moore chooses not to stay in India for the trial headed off to England on a ship. Miss Quested insists on Aziz's innocence to her fiancé, but Heaslop takes no action. When Miss Quested testifies at the trial, she admits that she was wrong about the alleged attack.

Following Aziz's release, Muslims hold a celebratory procession. Fielding comes to Miss Quested's aid by escorting her to his garden home. Here, they discover that Mrs. Moore passed away at sea before the trial. Ronny Heaslop calls off his engagement with Adela, who departs for England. Fielding resigns from the Club. Aziz starts to doubt Fielding, suspecting that he aims to prevent Miss Quested from providing compensation and even that he is secretly involved with her.

In the concluding section, titled The Temple, several years have passed, and both Professor Godbole and Aziz reside and work in the Native State of Mau, governed by an elderly Rajah. The segment begins with Professor Godbole, now Mau's minister of education, and transitions into the Gokul Ashtami festival, which commemorates Shri Krishna's birth. At the event, Professor Godbole performs a dance to honor the deity and fondly remembers Mrs. Moore.

Aziz, believing that Fielding married Miss Quested, declines to read his letters. When Fielding, as the education inspector, comes to visit, he tries to reconcile with Aziz, clarifying that his wife is actually Stella, Mrs. Moore's daughter. Stella and her brother, Ralph, have accompanied Fielding to India. Initially, Aziz behaves harshly towards Ralph, but his memories of Mrs. Moore make him change his attitude. Meanwhile, the Rajah has passed away, but the news is kept secret.

Aziz and Fielding go on a final ride together, rekindling much of their previous closeness. However, Aziz maintains that India must achieve independence from Britain, a sentiment Fielding disagrees with. Despite their desire to be friends, the historical context prevents a true friendship between them.

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