A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Part I, Chapters I – III: Summary

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Last Updated March 22, 2023.

The town of Chandrapore is portrayed with its three distinct sections: Indian, Eurasian, and English. The larger setting includes the Ganges River, lush greenery, the sky and sun, and the Marabar Hills with their legendary caves located 20 miles to the south.

In the second chapter, Aziz and Mahmoud Ali meet at Hamidullah's home, where they discuss the possibility of friendship between Indians and English people. Hamidullah takes Aziz to meet his wife in the purdah quarters, and she inquires if Aziz plans to remarry. As they sit down for dinner, a servant delivers a message calling Aziz to Major Callendar's bungalow. Reluctantly, Aziz leaves.

Upon arriving at the bungalow, Aziz finds the Major absent and his tonga taken by the Major's wife and her friend, Mrs. Lesley. Aziz starts walking back and stops at a mosque on the outskirts of the civil station. There, he contemplates Persian poetry and meets Mrs. Moore. After a brief moment of anger, they engage in a friendly conversation, which is interrupted by Aziz's passionate outburst about his mistreatment by the Callendars. Aziz escorts Mrs. Moore back to the Club and informs her that Indians are not allowed inside.

The third chapter takes place at the Club, where Mrs. Moore is welcomed by Adela Quested after a performance of Cousin Kate. The Anglo-Indians discuss the "real India," and Fielding suggests they should try meeting Indians. Most women find the idea ridiculous and stress the need to maintain distance from the locals. Mr. Turton proposes to organize a gathering with Indians for Mrs. Moore. The Turtons, Ronny Heaslop, Miss Quested, and Mrs. Moore leave, and Mrs. Moore tells her son about her encounter in the mosque.

Heaslop is unsettled and cautions his mother about interacting with the natives. They stop by the glowing Ganges River. Later, at home, they discuss Aziz's intentions. Heaslop agrees not to report Aziz's mosque conversation to Major Callendar, provided that Mrs. Moore doesn't mention it to Miss Quested, who is in India to decide whether she should marry him.

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Part I, Chapters IV – VI: Summary