A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Part II, Chapters XXVII – XXIX: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 906

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

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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. Fielding tells him she is dead.

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The lieutenant-governor of the province visits and commends the outcome of the trial and Fielding’s actions. He orders him to rejoin the Club. Miss Quested and Fielding write a letter of apology to Aziz. Indians want friendship rather than justice, Fielding declares.

Appealing to Mrs. Moore’s memory, Fielding continues to try to talk Aziz into withdrawing his claim for excess compensation. Suddenly, he agrees to claim only costs.

Ronny Heaslop comes to tell Fielding that Miss Quested is leaving for England. Fielding goes to see her and discovers Heaslop has broken their engagement. Fielding asks her if someone had followed her into the cave or if no one had. She says it will never be known. Mrs. Moore knew, she says, and they speak of her death. They affirm their friendship and promise to write.

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Adela sails home ten days later. At Port Said, she goes ashore with a missionary who tells her that every life should have a turn and a return. Suddenly, she understands that she should look up Mrs. Moore’s children, Ralph and Stella, when she reaches England.

Mrs. Moore’s death and her memory shadow this entire section. At first, when Aziz declares he will consult the older woman about his demand for compensation, Fielding tries to convince Aziz that she has died. Aziz refuses to believe it. This leads the Englishman to reflect on death and how it exists within the minds of others. Later, he uses Mrs. Moore’s memory in his campaign to convince Aziz to reduce his demands for compensation from Miss Quested. It is in fact Mrs. Moore’s memory that finally leads Aziz to agree; he feels this is a way for him to honor her.

Fielding and Miss Quested also speak of Mrs. Moore’s death and of how meditation on death may affect the living. She maintains that only Mrs. Moore would have known the solution to the central mystery: what happened in the caves. As Miss Quested disappears from India, her last resolve is to look up Mrs. Moore’s children. Mrs. Moore’s memory will continue to live on in Chandrapore, with the aid of a cult that has grown up around a legend.

In this section, Fielding’s role as a mediator and an educator comes into play. He attempts to educate Aziz about Miss Quested’s true character and to convince him to reduce his demands, while he explains to Miss Quested that she should write a letter of apology.

Again, the key to understanding between the Anglo-Indians and the Indians is true feeling. This is something Miss Quested lacked. She is sadly aware of it and actively engaged in an attempt to understand what has happened. Her growth into self-knowledge continues and deepens, extending to the realization that her engagement was not based on deep feeling. Although she was not able to break it off herself, she recognizes that his action was correct.

Divisions begin to appear in the aftermath of the crisis. Now that their solidarity in Aziz’s defense is no longer necessary, the differences between Fielding and Aziz stand out. Although he feels rootless, Fielding is not ready or able to become an Indian. He is appalled by Aziz’s frank awareness of his own sexual attractiveness and Miss Quested’s lack of it. Although this fact has been established, speaking of it seems to outrage Fielding’s British sense of modesty and decency. Aziz is no longer interested in behaving like a British gentleman, either in terms of money or of sex. His demand for compensation strikes Fielding as vindictive and excessive. Both Mrs. Moore’s death and the mystery of what happened in the caves introduce reactions and metaphysical speculations that expose the limitations of rationality. The British who came to India found themselves confronted with a world that could not be confined within their concept of order and reason. In the novel, their reaction is suggested by an image that Miss Quested uses in explaining why she cannot be sure what did or did not take place in the cave. She says it is as if she were running her finger along the polished wall of the cave in the dark. This is a figurative expression of the human attempt to understand the universe through rationality alone, without the flame of the spirit.

Although Miss Quested soon withdraws the suggestion, she at first declares that Mrs. Moore would have known about the events in the cave—which she could not have witnessed visually—through telepathy. During their final conversation, Adela and Fielding, who identify themselves as rationalists, are profoundly and indefinably disturbed by a sense of something vast, a universe that dwarfs their individual concerns.

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Part II, Chapters XXV – XXVI: Summary and Analysis


Part II, Chapters XXX – XXXII: Summary and Analysis