A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Part II, Chapters XII – XIV: Summary

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Last Updated March 22, 2023.

The ancient Marabar Hills stand at the boundary where newer lands encroach upon the old. Though the caves' structure is simple to explain, there's an inexplicable and unearthly quality that eludes description. Striking a match inside reveals the stunningly polished chamber walls.

From the Club's upper veranda, the hills appear distant and enchanting. Overhearing Miss Quested express her desire to visit the caves, word reaches Aziz, prompting him to organize an excursion. He invites Fielding and Godbole, asking Fielding to invite the women. Despite the lack of enthusiasm, everyone agrees to join the outing.

Aziz meticulously plans the trip, borrowing servants from friends. Miss Quested, Mrs. Moore, and their servant arrive early, but Aziz convinces them to leave the servant behind. Fielding and Godbole are delayed, and as the train departs, Aziz leaps aboard, while Fielding misses the grab and falls. Mrs. Moore reassures Aziz that the adventure isn't ruined.

In the purdah carriage, Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested discuss Adela's upcoming wedding. As they near the hills, Adela recalls the location of her "hyena" and contemplates her transition into Anglo-Indian society. An elephant awaits to transport the women to the caves, and they climb onto the howdah as the train departs.

Aziz is intent on hosting his guests and discusses Mughal Emperors Babur, Alamgir, and Akbar. Adela shares her concerns about becoming like other Anglo-Indians after marrying Heaslop.

Entering the cave, the group disappears into a hole. Inside, Mrs. Moore nearly faints and becomes disoriented and unsettled, partly due to the cave's echo. Hiding her true emotions, she stays behind as Aziz and Adela explore the other caves. In solitude, she experiences a sense of despair.

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Part I, Chapters IX – XI: Summary

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Part II, Chapters XV – XVII: Summary