A Passage to India Summary
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.

Summary

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.

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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...

(The entire section is 1,664 words.)