A Passage to India Summary

In A Passage to India, a Muslim man named Aziz struggles to make friends with the English. He invites a group of them out to explore the Marabar Caves, where Miss Quested falls down a hill. She accuses Aziz of attacking her, but he's cleared of all wrongdoing.

  • Dr. Aziz and his Muslim friends discuss the difficulties they have relating to the British. Aziz attempts to bridge this gap by inviting a number of them to the Marabar Caves.

  • At the Caves, Aziz leaves Miss Quested alone for a while, and she falls down a hill. She then accuses him of making sexual advances toward her.

  • Aziz is arrested, but found innocent at trial. Years later, Fielding, Miss Quested's former fiance, visits Aziz in Mau. They attempt a friendship, but are unable to sustain it because of social circumstances in India.


Summary of the Novel
A Passage to India begins in the town of Chandrapore. The first section, entitled Mosque, introduces a gathering of Muslim friends who are discussing the problem of friendship with the Anglo-Indians, their British rulers. Among them is Dr. Aziz, a surgeon, who afterwards has a fateful meeting in a mosque with Mrs. Moore. Their conversation brings them close and later she introduces him to her younger friend, Miss Quested, who has arrived to marry Mrs. Moore’s son.

Various attempts are made to bridge the gap between the Indians and the English: an awkward mixed “bridge-party” at the English Club; Aziz’s brief experience of fellowship while playing polo with a subaltern; and an “unconventional” gathering of the Muslim Aziz, the Hindu Professor Godbole, Mrs. Moore, and Mrs. Quested at a teaparty at Fielding’s house. The relative success of the tea party inspires Aziz to invite all present to accompany him on a planned excursion to the Marabar Caves.

Miss Quested decides not to marry Ronny Heaslop, but then changes her mind and they become engaged. Driving in a car with the Nawab Bahadur, they have an accident; this draws them together and they announce their engagement to Mrs. Moore. Meanwhile, rumors, suspicion, and mutual rancor between Muslims and Hindus emerge in a gathering attended by Aziz, Dr. Panna Lal, and others, though they maintain a superficial politeness.

In the second section, The Caves, Aziz’s excursion begins. Fielding and Professor Godbole are delayed and do not join Aziz and the two women on the train. Once in the caves, Mrs. Moore is disoriented and overcome by incomprehensible sensations. She leaves the caves. Aziz and Miss Quested continue, but after she asks an annoying question, he leaves her and goes into another cave. When he emerges, he sees her far down the hill. Fielding, who is just arriving, asks about Miss Quested. Instead of telling the truth, Aziz invents a story. When they return to Chandrapore, Aziz is arrested. Miss Quested has charged him with attempting to “insult” her in the caves. This is clearly a euphemism for a sexual advance or attack.

The British community is furious and indignant; Aziz is denied bail. Fielding’s attempts to speak to Adela Quested fail. Mrs. Moore refuses to remain in India to testify at the trial. She books passage on a ship for England. Miss Quested tells her fiancé that Aziz is innocent, but Heaslop will not do anything about it. At the trial, when she finally takes the witness stand, she admits that she was mistaken about the supposed assault. The Muslims stage a march to celebrate Aziz’s release. Fielding rescues Miss Quested by taking her to his garden house. There, they learn that Mrs. Moore has died at sea, before the trial. Ronny Heaslop breaks his engagement to Adela, who leaves for England. Fielding resigns from the Club. Aziz has begun to distrust Fielding; he believes that Fielding is trying to keep Miss Quested from paying compensation and even that he is having a secret affair with her.

The third and final section, The Temple, takes place years later. Professor Godbole and Aziz are now living and working in the Native State of Mau, ruled by an aging Rajah. The section opens with Professor Godbole, who is now minister of education in Mau, and soon leads into the Gokul Ashtami, a great festival celebrating the birthday of Shri Krishna. There, Professor Godbole dances in worship of the god and remembers Mrs. Moore with love. Aziz has refused to read Fielding’s letters, still imagining that he has married Miss Quested. When Fielding arrives in his role as inspector of education, he attempts to make peace with Aziz, pointing out that his wife is not Miss Quested but Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Stella. Stella and her brother, Ralph, have come to India with him. Aziz at first treats Ralph roughly, but then, remembering Mrs. Moore, he softens toward him. The Rajah has died, although his death is being concealed. Aziz and Fielding go for a last ride together and recapture much of their old intimacy. Yet Aziz insists that the British must be forced out, so that India will be a sovereign nation. Fielding disagrees. Although the two men want to be friends, the historical circumstances do not allow for friendship between them.

The Life and Work of E. M. Forster

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London on January 1, 1879. After graduating from Tonbridge School, he attended King’s College, Cambridge where he was exposed to the values of liberal humanism and discovered an appreciation of the human being as an individual and the value of friendship. Many of the friendships he made at Cambridge were lasting ones, and he was later to travel to India for the first time with university friends.

Forster’s literary career began in 1903, when he began writing for The Independent Review, a liberal and anti-imperialist publication that he co-founded with Lowes Dickinson. He soon published his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905); by 1910, he had written three more. The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908), and Howard’s End (1910) exhibit a growth in the novelist’s skill and in the range of his subjects. In A Room with a View, which is set first in Florence and then in English suburbia, Forster reveals himself as a critic of social snobbery and suburban pretension.

In addition to their observation of social codes, all of Forster’s novels portray sensitive characters struggling with the inflexibility of these codes and the insensitivity of those around them. Although Forster’s point of view is often comic and ironic, his characters’ personal feelings are usually presented as serious, or at key moments, sacred. This is especially apparent in Forster’s last novel, A Passage to India, first published in 1924. A Passage to India is the novelist’s acknowledged masterpiece.

Although Forster was born and raised in England, and lived much of his life there, travel was an important element in his life and work. During World War I, he obtained a position with the Red Cross in Alexandria, Egypt. By this time Forster was already an established and recognized writer. Forster’s life and career spanned many historical changes, including two world wars and the dismantling of much of the British Empire. He observed the British colonial administration first-hand in 1912, when he made the long journey by sea to India. After this trip, he wrote most of the first section of A Passage to India, but it was not until after a second visit, in 1921, when he spent six months as private secretary to a Hindu Maharajah, that he completed it. His masterpiece was published in 1924 and unanimously praised by literary critics. Members of the British colonial society in England were less enthusiastic. They criticized its portrayal of the colonial administrators, while some Indians wrote that he had misunderstood the Indian characters or treated them condescendingly. However, Forster’s goal was not to produce a documentary portrayal of India or Indian society; for example, he changed the names of Indian towns and regions, even inventing his own Marabar Caves in place of the actual Ajanta Caves. Instead of drawing a portrait of a country, he was presenting an overall impression that continually emphasized the way in which the inner qualities of certain individuals and universal feelings were restricted by social, religious, and ethnic codes. Above all, his novel dramatically depicted the deep spiritual tensions of two clashing civilizations: the East and the West.

After A Passage to India, his greatest success, Forster never wrote another novel. He turned, instead, to short stories, essays, and biographies. In 1925, he was awarded the Tait Black Memorial and femina Vie Heureuse prizes. Forster never married and he died in 1970. It was not until the year after his death that his 1914 novel Maurice was published for the first time.

Beginning with the Oscar-winning film of A Passage to India, which appeared in 1984, Forster’s popularity has increased. David Lean’s version of A Passage to India was followed by the Merchant-Ivory productions of A Room with a View and Howard’s End, in 1987 and 1992, respectively. The success of these films has led to a renewed appreciation of Forster’s gift for portraying the complex inner lives of his characters and the rigid, yet temporary, nature of the social structures they inhabit.

Estimated Reading Time
The average reader may wish to dedicate at least six hours to A Passage to India, in order to become accustomed to the exotic setting, the large cast of characters with their ethnic backgrounds, and the intricacies of both British and Indian social systems. (A glossary of Anglo-Indian terms is provided in the appendix of this study guide.) It is essential to pay close attention to the three-part division of the novel, and to consider the title of each section and how it relates to individual chapters.

The first section concentrates on identifying and distinguishing individual characters, their contrasting backgrounds, and the differences and similarities between them. Themes of sex and marriage, and of ghosts and secrets make their appearance, and the great theme of kindness between cultures and between individuals is emphasized at the end.

The next section is introduced by a description of the mystical and symbolic Marabar Caves. This section constitutes the heart of the novel and presents its principal dramatic and thematic content. The climax of the novel occurs when Aziz’s trial takes place. This scene should be read carefully, both for its theatrical quality and its resolution. The end of the Caves section presents the aftermath of the trial and emphasizes the themes of death and departure.

A final, short section begins two years later. Its chapters can easily be read as a single unit, with particular attention to the scene of Professor Godbole dancing at the Krishna festival and the confrontation between Fielding and Aziz in the book’s final scene.

A Passage to India Summary

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

A Passage to India has a tripartite structure labeled mosque, caves, and temple. Each section serves as a symbolic signpost and corresponds to the seasons of the Indian year.

After being summoned to the house of Major Callendar, Dr. Aziz, a Moslem doctor at the government hospital, discovers that the major has gone and that he must walk back to his house because two English women departed in his hired tonga (two-wheeled vehicle). While stopping at a mosque on his way back to Chandrapore, Aziz meets Mrs. Moore, the mother of Ronald Heaslop, the city magistrate. Aziz and Mrs. Moore seem to “connect” with each other and share a common understanding of life. Under the racially fragmented system of British colonialism, however, neither the British nor the Indians can speak publicly of this kind of communication. The elderly Mrs. Moore invites Aziz to walk back to the club with her and introduces him to Adela Quested, newly arrived from England and the fiancé of her son. Although A Passage to India clearly addresses social and political issues, the major theme is the plight of the human race. The fact that the characters struggle unsuccessfully to “connect” in the novel indicates Forster’s pessimism, yet he portrays a desire on the part of Aziz, Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Adela to understand and to establish meaningful relationships with each other.

Mrs. Moore and Adela want to see the real India and complain about the colonialized India that they have seen. Turton, a member of the British club, holds a bridge party for them and invites a few native Indian guests. The party is a failure, in that the Indians separate into groups apart from the British and the situation is uncomfortable. Fielding, the government college principal who associates freely with the Indians, invites the ladies to tea at his home. Adela persuades him to include Aziz and Professor Godbole, a Hindu teacher and associate of Fielding. At the tea, Adela and Mrs. Moore have a refreshing conversation with Aziz and Godbole. Aziz is overjoyed by the interaction of the group members and invites all of them to visit the Marabar Caves. Mrs. Moore and Adela accept the invitation, and Aziz plans an elaborate outing.

Heaslop arrives to escort his mother and his fiancé to a game of polo and is very rude to Aziz. The incident causes Adela and Heaslop to quarrel, and she breaks off their engagement. The couple then goes for a ride, and after striking an unidentified animal on the road, Adela changes her mind, and they are reconciled.

Unfortunately, Godbole and Fielding miss their train and Aziz must escort the British ladies to the Marabar Caves alone. Mrs. Moore is frightened by a loud booming echo in the first cave and stops to rest. Considering the gulf between the British and Indians, Mrs. Moore sees the futility of her Christian and moralistic ideas about life echoed in this hollow sound. Mrs. Moore declines to continue their explorations, and Aziz, a guide, and Adela proceed along. Adela upsets Aziz by inquiring whether he has more than one wife. Aziz leaves her briefly to regain his composure, and Adela wanders into a cave and claims that she is almost assaulted by Aziz. She stumbles down a hill, where she meets Nancy Derek, who has brought Fielding to the caves. Nancy takes Adela back to Chandrapore.

The Marabar Caves section of the novel is one of the most puzzling. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and a number of readers and other reviewers of Forster’s works objected to the mystery of the caves scene. In a June 26, 1924, letter to Dickinson, Forster wrote the following:In the cave it is either a man, or the supernatural, or an illusion. And even if I know! My writing mind therefore is a blur here—i.e. I will it to remain a blur, and to be uncertain, as I am of many facts in daily life. . . . It sprang straight from my subject matter.

Mrs. Moore is at once devastated and terrified by the hollow, booming echo from the caves. Her revelation suggests that perhaps the gulf that lies between the British and Indians cannot be bridged and that her Christianity is no match for the inexplicable. She has no answer for the confusion at the caves and realizes that all the British can do is to “muddle.”

Aziz meets Fielding at the caves, and neither knows what has happened. They assume that Adela decided to leave with Nancy. Aziz and Fielding return by train, and Aziz is met by the police inspector and arrested. Fielding and Mrs. Moore alienate themselves from the British by siding with Aziz. Realizing his mother’s position about the matter, Heaslop arranges passage for Mrs. Moore to return to England, and she dies at sea. During the trial, one of Aziz’s friends accuses Heaslop of smuggling his mother out of India so that she cannot testify in defense of Aziz. The Indian spectators loudly begin calling for Mrs. Moore. Then, Adela exonerates Aziz with her testimony and is publicly ostracized by the British. Fielding rescues Adela, encourages Aziz not to file a damage suit against her, and she returns to England.

Two years later, Aziz is the personal physician to the rajah of Mau, a Hindu state in India, and Godbole is the minister of education. Aziz has become totally disillusioned with the British, including Fielding. He has not accepted any letters from Fielding because he assumes that Fielding has married Adela. Aziz is angered to learn that Fielding is visiting Mau as a part of his official duties. When Aziz meets Fielding again, he discovers that the former Stella Moore, daughter of Mrs. Moore, has married Fielding. Because of the distance between them, Aziz and Fielding cannot renew their friendship. The floods in Mau prevent the Fieldings from leaving immediately.

Before Fielding and his family make their departure from India, he and Aziz decide to go horseback riding together and begin rather amicably discussing the British/Indian problem. Sensing the end of their association, Aziz and Fielding attempt to swear eternal friendship but are forced down separate paths by rocks presenting narrow pathways for the horses. This symbolizes their inability to bridge the gulf between their races and indicates that a friendship between them is not yet possible.

The Indian setting is very important in A Passage to India and is an antagonistic agent to the British colonialists. The landscape attempts to expel the British, and some critics pinpoint the correspondence of the three sections of the novel to three divisions of the Indian year: cool spring, hot summer, wet monsoon. The caves are elemental, and the narrative begins with extensive references and descriptions of the physical setting. The nothingness of the caves should convince people to accept the irrational and emphasizes their relative insignificance. The British experience in India suggests that humanity must not oppose the natural rhythms of the earth and attempt to impose order on the “chaos” that is India.

A Passage to India Summary

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Dr. Aziz is doubly snubbed this evening. He had been summoned to the civil surgeon’s house while he was at supper, but when he arrived, he found that his superior had departed for his club without bothering to leave any message. In addition, two Englishwomen emerged from the house and took their departure in his hired tonga, or horse-drawn vehicle, without even thanking him.

The doctor starts back toward the city of Chandrapore afoot. Tired, he stops at a mosque to rest and is furiously angry when he sees an Englishwoman emerge from behind its pillars with, as he thinks, her shoes on. Mrs. Moore, however, had gone barefoot to the mosque, and in a surge of friendly feelings, Dr. Aziz engages her in conversation.

Mrs. Moore had recently arrived from England to visit her son, Ronald Heaslop, the city magistrate. Dr. Aziz finds they have common ground when he learns that she does not care for the civil surgeon’s wife. Her disclosure prompts him to tell of the usurpation of his carriage. The doctor walks back to the club with her, although as an Indian, he himself cannot be admitted.

At the club, Adela Quested, Heaslop’s prospective fiancé, declares she wants to see the real India, not the India seen through the rarified atmosphere of the British colony. To please the ladies, one of the members offers to hold what he whimsically terms a “bridge party” and invite some native guests. The bridge party is a miserable affair. The Indians retreat to one side of the lawn, and although the conspicuously reluctant group of Anglo-Indian ladies go over to visit them, an awkward tension prevails.

There is, however, one promising result of the party. The principal of the Government College, Mr. Fielding, a man who apparently feels neither rancor nor arrogance toward the Indians, invites Mrs. Moore and Adela to a tea at his house. Upon Adela’s request, Mr. Fielding also invites Professor Godbole, a teacher at his school, and Dr. Aziz. At the tea, Dr. Aziz charms Fielding and the guests with the elegance and fine intensity of his manner. The gathering, however, breaks up on a discordant note when the priggish and suspicious Heaslop arrives to claim the ladies. Fielding has taken Mrs. Moore on a tour of his school, and Heaslop is furious at him for having left Dr. Aziz alone with his prospective fiancé.

Adela is irritated by Heaslop’s callous priggishness during her visit and informs him that she does not wish to become his wife. Later that evening, during a drive into the countryside, a mysterious figure, perhaps an animal, looms out of the darkness and nearly upsets the car in which they are riding. Their mutual loneliness and a sense of the unknown draws them together, and Adela asks Heaslop to disregard her earlier rejection.

One extraordinary aspect of the city of Chandrapore is a natural formation known as the Marabar Caves, located several miles outside the city. Mrs. Moore and Adela accept Dr. Aziz’s offer to escort them to the caves. The visit proves catastrophic for all. Entering one of the caves, Mrs. Moore realizes that no matter what was says, the walls return only a prolonged booming, hollow echo. Pondering that echo while she rests, and pondering the distance that separates her from Dr. Aziz, from Adela, and from her own children, Mrs. Moore sees that all her Christianity, all her ideas of moral good and bad, in short, all her ideas of life, amount only to what is made of them by the hollow, booming echo of the Marabar Caves. Adela enters one of the caves alone. A few minutes later she rushes out in a terrified state and claims she had been nearly attacked in the gloom. She also claims that Dr. Aziz was the attacker, and the doctor is arrested.

There always had been a clear division between the Indians and the Anglo-Indian community, but as the trial of Dr. Aziz drew nearer, the division sharpens and each group demands strict loyalty from its members. When Mrs. Moore casually intimates to her son that she is perfectly certain Dr. Aziz is not capable of the alleged crime, he immediately ships her off to a coastal port of embarkation. After Fielding expresses the same opinion at the club, he is ostracized.

At the trial opening, a sensational incident occurs when one of Dr. Aziz’s friends pushes into the courtroom and shouts that Heaslop has smuggled his mother out of the country because she would have testified to the doctor’s innocence. Hearing the name of Mrs. Moore, the restless Indian spectators work it into a kind of chant as though Mrs. Moore was a deity. The English colony is not to learn until later that Mrs. Moore died aboard ship.

Adela’s testimony concludes the trial. For her, the tense atmosphere of the courtroom, the reiteration of Mrs. Moore’s name, and the buzzing sound in her own ears that persists since the time she left the caves, combines to produce upon her a trancelike effect. She relives the whole of the crucial day as she recollects its events under the interrogation of the prosecuting attorney. When she reaches the moment of her lingering in the cave, she falters, changes her mind, and withdraws all charges.

For several hours afterward, Chandrapore experiences a great bedlam. The Anglo-Indians sulk while the Indians exult. As far as the British are concerned, Adela had crossed the line. Heaslop carefully explains to her that he can no longer be associated with her. After accepting Fielding’s hospitality for a few weeks, she returns home. Dr. Aziz’s Anglophobia increases, but Fielding persuades him not to press for legal damages from Adela.

Two years later, the Muhammadan Dr. Aziz is court physician to an aged Hindu potentate who dies on the night of the Krishna festival. The feast is a frantic celebration, and the whole town is under its spell when Fielding arrives on an official visit. In the intervening time he had married again, and Dr. Aziz, assuming he had married Adela, tries to avoid his old friend. When he runs into him accidentally, however, he finds that it is Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Stella, whom Fielding married. The doctor’s shame at his mistake only causes him to become more distant.

Before they part for the last time, Dr. Aziz and Fielding go riding through the jungles. The misunderstanding between them has been resolved, but they have no social ground on which to meet. Fielding cast his lot with his countryfolk by marrying an Englishwoman. As the two men ride, rocks suddenly rear up before them, forcing their horses to pass in single file on either side. This event symbolizes the different paths they will travel from then on. The affection of two men, however sincere, is not sufficient to bridge the vast gap between their races.

A Passage to India Chapter Summary and Analysis

A Passage to India Part I, Chapters I – III: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Dr. Aziz: Muslim surgeon working under Major Callendar

Hamidullah: Muslim, prominent Chandrapore barrister

Mahmoud Ali: Muslim lawyer, a troublemaker

Mohammed Latif: Hamidullah’s relative and hanger-on

Major Callendar: English, the civil surgeon

Mrs. Moore: older Englishwoman visiting India, mother of Ronny

Ronny Heaslop: English, the city magistrate

Miss Adela Quested: young Englishwoman visiting India

Mr. Turton: English civil servant, the collector

Mrs. Turton: his wife

Cyril Fielding: Principal of Government College at Chandrapore

There is a...

(The entire section is 1191 words.)

A Passage to India Part I, Chapters IV – VI: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Nawab Bahadur: wealthy Muslim landowner

Mr. Ram Chand: Hindu associate of Dr. Panna Lal

Mr. Graysford and Mr. Sorley: Anglo-Indian missionaries

Miss Nancy Derek: Anglo-Indian companion to a Maharani

The McBrydes: Anglo-Indian District Superintendent of Police and his wife

Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharya: Hindus of some wealth and status

Mrs. Das: a relation

Dr. Panna Lal: Hindu doctor, Aziz’s fellow assistant

A subaltern: Anglo-Indian army officer of lower rank

Some of the Muslims discuss whether or not they should accept Turton’s invitation to the gardens of the Club. The Nawab...

(The entire section is 1092 words.)

A Passage to India Part I, Chapter VII: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Professor Narayan Godbole: an elderly Hindu of the Brahmin caste

Aziz is the first to arrive at Fielding’s tea party. When Fielding can’t find his collar stud, Aziz removes his and loans it to him. Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested arrive. Professor Godbole arrives and has his tea apart from the others. Aziz asks Miss Quested why she doesn’t settle in India. Miss Quested replies that she couldn’t do that, and is then surprised and taken aback at her reply. Aziz invites the party to visit the Marabar Caves with him. He has never been there; Professor Godbole describes them vaguely.

Ronny Heaslop arrives and wants to take Adela to see a polo game. He ignores...

(The entire section is 768 words.)

A Passage to India Part I, Chapter VIII: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Mr. Harris: the Eurasian chauffeur

Krishna: an attendant in Heaslop’s office

Nureddin: the Nawab’s grandson

After leaving the party, Ronny Heaslop picks out Aziz’s missing collar stud as a clue to the forgetful character of all Indians. Mrs. Moore does not want to go to the polo game, and Adela also declines, so Heaslop decides to drop the polo. Losing his temper, he orders his mother and Adela to have nothing to do with Indians in the future. He and Adela leave Mrs. Moore at the bungalow and go to the polo game after all. While they are at the polo grounds, Adela requests a “thorough talk,” and she says she will not marry him. They see...

(The entire section is 925 words.)

A Passage to India Part I, Chapters IX – XI: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Hassan: Aziz’s servant

Syed Mohammed: a Muslim engineer

Mr. Haq: the Muslim police inspector

Rafi: Syed Mohammed’s nephew

Aziz is ill in bed. He fantasizes about dancing girls and sex. Hamidullah, Syed Mohammed, Mr. Haq, and Rafi come to visit and sympathize. Rafi first suggests that Aziz and Professor Godbole must have become ill after having tea with Fielding, then maintains that Professor Godbole has cholera. Syed Mohammed and the others speak scornfully of Hindus as a source of infection. Dr. Panna Lal arrives, accompanied by Ram Chand. He examines Aziz perfunctorily. The others inquire about Professor Godbole’s illness. The...

(The entire section is 841 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XII – XIV: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Antony: Mrs. Moore’s and Miss Quested’s servant

The Marabar Hills, one of the oldest geographical phenomena in the world, stand at a border where newer lands are advancing to cover the old. The repetitive layout of the caves is easily described, but there is something extraordinary and inhuman, or extra-human, about them that escapes description. They are dark inside, yet if a visitor strikes a match an answering flame is mirrored on the exquisitely polished walls of the circular chamber.

From the upper verandah of the Club, the hills look distant and romantic. Here Miss Quested is overheard remarking that she would like to have visited the caves. This...

(The entire section is 898 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XV – XVII: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
An Indian guide

Miss Derek’s chauffeur

A Brahmin cook: hired by Aziz for Godbole

Miss Quested, Aziz, and a guide continue the expedition, which is described as slightly tedious. Aziz is preoccupied with thoughts of the breakfast menu, and Adela with her coming marriage. She is suddenly struck by the thought that she and her fiancé do not love each other, and is appalled. As they climb in the heat, she begins to question Aziz about his marriage. Aziz claims that his wife is alive. Then Adela naively asks him if he has more than one wife. Aziz is insulted by the question and plunges away into another cave to regain his composure. Adela goes off...

(The entire section is 859 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XVIII – XXI: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
A young mother: blonde Englishwoman, symbolizes British womanhood

A subaltern: British army officer of lower rank, supports Major Callendar

Mr. Amritrao: an Oxford educated, Hindu Calcutta barrister, notoriously anti-British

Mr. McBryde detains Aziz, explaining that he may be released on bail. When Fielding arrives, McBryde explains the charge to him. Fielding asks to see Miss Quested, but his request is denied. He declares that he believes Aziz is innocent. His request to see Aziz is also denied. The contents of Aziz’s table-drawer are brought in; Mr. McBryde says triumphantly, “Photographs of women.” Fielding explains that the photograph...

(The entire section is 1072 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XXII – XXIII: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Lady Mellanby: wife of the lieutenant-governor of the province

Adela is recuperating in the McBryde’s bungalow, with Miss Derek and Mrs. McBryde hovering over her, picking cactus spines from her flesh. Whenever she tells the story of the Marabar Caves, she begins to cry. Adela is plagued by a recurring echo that makes her feel that Evil has gotten loose and is entering other people’s lives.

When Adela’s temperature has fallen to normal, Heaslop takes her away. He tells her that there had nearly been a riot on the last day of Mohurram; the procession had tried to enter the civil station. When she learns that she will have to appear in court to identify...

(The entire section is 1051 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapter XXIV: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
The punkah-wallah: a beautiful Untouchable who works the courthouse fan

Mr. Das: Hindu judge presiding over the trial, Heaslop’s assistant

Adela is now staying with the Turtons. Ronny continues to support her faithfully, yet she asks herself if she is capable of loving anyone. Fearing that she will break down under cross-examination, she tells the Turtons that her echo has come back.

There are signs of unrest on the way to the court, and they hear further reports about it. The Anglo-Indians tend to blame Fielding. Major Callendar issues another brutal tirade against these “buck niggers,” during which he refers mockingly to the disfigured...

(The entire section is 1230 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XXV – XXVI: Summary and Analysis

Miss Quested is carried out of the courtroom by a mass of Indians. A riot is beginning. She is rescued by Fielding, who takes her to his victoria, ignoring Aziz’s call to him. Students, placing garlands around Fielding’s neck, pick up the shafts and carry them through the main bazaar. Despite the ill-feeling against Miss Quested, more garlands are flung around her neck and Fielding’s.

As the procession continues, Mahmoud Ali tries to incite attacks on the English; Nawab Bahadur attempts to calm the crowd; Hamidullah says there must be an orderly procession. Aziz again accuses Fielding of desertion. Mahmoud Ali starts a rumor that Nureddin has been tortured. Howling, the mob heads for...

(The entire section is 1201 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XXVII – XXIX: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Sir Gilbert Mellanby: lieutenant-governor of the province

A missionary

Fielding and Aziz lie on the roof of Mr. Zulfiqar’s mansion, speculating about the future. Aziz says he will be rich from his compensation money and invites Fielding to travel with him. He brushes aside the objections he anticipates from Fielding, saying that he has become anti-British.

They discuss how much Miss Quested should pay. Fielding insists on costs only. Aziz requires an apology, suggesting half-humorously that Miss Quested admit she would have liked him to follow her into the cave. Fielding is offended on her behalf. Aziz says that he will consult Mrs. Moore....

(The entire section is 906 words.)

A Passage to India Part II, Chapters XXX – XXXII: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Major Roberts: the new civil surgeon

Young Milner: the new city magistrate

Mr. Das visits Aziz at the hospital to ask for a poem for Mr. Battacharya’s new magazine. Mr. Das says he knows Aziz has a grudge against him. They finish in a half-embrace.

Aziz begins to write a poem about the decay of Islam and love. He resolves to transcend the Islamic past and attempt to love India as a whole. He will get away from British India and try for a post in a Hindu state. Hamidullah advises against it. Hamidullah winks and relays a rumor that Miss Quested was having an affair with Fielding. He wants to take Aziz behind the purdah curtain.


(The entire section is 954 words.)

A Passage to India Part III, Chapter XXXIII: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
The Rajah of Mau: an old Hindu ruler

When Part III opens, two years have passed since Fielding left India. The setting is now the Hindu state of Mau, where Professor Godbole and Dr. Aziz live. Professor Godbole and his choir are performing at the Hindu festival celebrating Shri Krishna’s birthday. The courtyard at Mau is filled with Hindu worshippers. There is music from many sources. In this setting, a small Europeanized band is almost unnoticeable.

Professor Godbole calls his musicians to a new rhythm. While he and his musicians melt into universal love, the professor remembers an old woman he had met in Chandrapore. When this memory comes to him, he...

(The entire section is 921 words.)

A Passage to India Part III, Chapters XXXIV – XXXV: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Colonel Maggs: Anglo-Indian political agent, an opponent of Aziz

Jemila, Ahmed, and Karim: Aziz’s children

Ralph Moore: Fielding’s brother-in-law, Mrs. Moore’s son

Dr. Aziz leaves the palace the next morning to return to his house. He sees Godbole, but the devotee indicates he does not want to be disturbed. Absent-mindedly, Godbole tells Aziz that “he” has arrived at the European Guest House. Knowing that Fielding is coming on an official visit, and that he has married, Aziz understands that this refers to Fielding. Holding to his old mistake, Aziz assumes his wife is Miss Quested.

We learn that while he was still in...

(The entire section is 1083 words.)

A Passage to India Part III, Chapter XXXVI: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
A young woman singer

Stella Moore: Fielding’s wife, Mrs. Moore’s daughter

The palace continues to hum. Although the customary dramatic performance depicting the legend of Krishna will not take place, the festival has still created an atmosphere of love and peace. Since Mau is usually a site of suspicion and selfishness, Aziz finds the change difficult to comprehend.

Around evening, he remembers the ointment he had promised to send to the Guest House and decides to ride over to deliver it. On the way, he sees the procession forming and almost bumps into Professor Godbole. It turns out that Godbole has known for over a year that Fielding married...

(The entire section is 1097 words.)

A Passage to India Part III, Chapter XXXVII: Summary and Analysis

Fielding and Aziz go for their last ride together in the Mau jungles. The Rajah’s death has been announced. From the official point of view, the visit is a failure. Every day Godbole has promised to show Fielding the high school, but has always made some excuse. Now Aziz tells him that the school has been converted into a granary. The school only exists on paper.

Fielding feels that the visit has been a success in terms of friendship. He and Aziz have resumed their old relationship. They look around at the bright scenery and see a cobra. When they stop to let it pass, Aziz shows Fielding a charming letter he wants to send Miss Quested, expressing his gratitude. Fielding is pleased. Aziz apologizes...

(The entire section is 871 words.)