A Passage to India Part I, Chapter VII: Summary and Analysis
by E. M. Forster

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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 Aziz and Professor Godbole, criticizes Fielding for leaving Miss Quested alone with Aziz and Professor Godbole, and makes disparaging remarks about Aziz. Aziz mentions that Miss Quested will not stay in India. They all say good-bye, feeling uneasy. As Heaslop, Miss Quested, and Mrs. Moore start to leave, Professor Godbole begins to sing a religious song to Shri Krishna. The chapter ends in silence.

This chapter depends on rapid alterations of tone and mood, like a piece of music. It ends with a musical composition, a song that is unfamiliar to European ears. Although some outward forms of civility are maintained, the mood shifts rapidly throughout the chapter.

It begins with a growing intimacy between Aziz and Fielding. This provides further development of both these characters. Fielding treats Aziz with easy informality. Aziz is pleased to find that Fielding’s home does not fit the Muslim’s stereotype of English order, “everything ranged so coldly on the shelves.” Privately, he thinks of the English as “cold and odd and circulating like an ice stream.” This emphasis on cold is in contrast to his own warm nature. He is excitable and changeable, carried away by his impulsiveness. When Aziz offers Fielding his own collar stud, he demonstrates his generosity. However, his uncontrollable chatter and his use of English slang make him seem faintly ridiculous.

The keynote to this chapter, and to much of the novel, is revealed in Mrs. Moore’s remark about muddle and mystery. These terms serve to describe most of the social intercourse at Fielding’s party. Even the first scene between Fielding and Aziz contains false notes.

Muddles are easy to spot. The greatest of them, the pivotal event upon which the unfolding of the entire novel rests, is Aziz’s invitation to the Marabar Caves. Forster’s irony is evident; Aziz invites the women only in order to distract them from the possibility of coming to his house. He has never been to the caves and knows nothing about them.

While Professor Godbole offers to describe them, the description consists mostly of negatives. No one seems to know why they are of any interest at all.

Although the members of different groups are face-to-face and in conversation at this tea party, there are still layers within a culture that...

(The entire section is 768 words.)