Part II, Chapters XXX – XXXII: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 954

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Summary
Mr. Das visits Aziz at the hospital to ask for a poem for Mr. Battacharya’s new magazine. Mr. Das says he knows Aziz has a grudge against him. They finish in a half-embrace.

Aziz begins to write a poem about the decay of Islam and love. He resolves to transcend the Islamic past and attempt to love India as a whole. He will get away from British India and try for a post in a Hindu state. Hamidullah advises against it. Hamidullah winks and relays a rumor that Miss Quested was having an affair with Fielding. He wants to take Aziz behind the purdah curtain.

Fielding returns from a conference and Aziz picks him up from the station and tells him of the scandal: Mr. McBryde and Miss Derek were caught having an affair. Aziz then tells him the gossip about Miss Quested. Fielding dismisses it as unimportant. Aziz scolds him about the prevalence of spies. Sensing Aziz’s hostility, Fielding challenges him directly to say what is on his mind.

Aziz archly accuses him of dallying with “Madamsell Adela.” Fielding is startled and so annoyed that he calls Aziz a “little rotter.” Aziz is deeply hurt, but denies being offended. Fielding apologizes and tries to explain. Aziz suddenly discovers that he has a previous engagement and cannot dine with Fielding. Mr. Turton icily insists that Fielding come to the Club that night.

After Fielding’s uneasy visit to the Club, during which he meets the officials who have replaced Major Callendar and Heaslop, he and Aziz have dinner together. Fielding announces that he is being sent back to England for a while.

Aziz mentions Miss Quested, asks if Fielding will see her in London, then decides it’s time to leave. He refuses Fielding’s offer of a ride home in his carriage and takes his bicycle instead. Aziz suspects that Fielding’s real motive in going to London is to marry Miss Quested for her money. He continues to elaborate on this fantasy.

Fielding writes a letter of explanation that does not please Aziz. Aziz coldly replies that he is going to take a holiday and won’t be back before Fielding leaves. He adds that he will be away at his new post when Fielding returns. After Fielding’s departure, Aziz’s friends encourage him in his suspicions. Soon Aziz has convinced himself that Fielding has married Miss Quested.

During the trip back to England, Fielding rediscovers a harmonious beauty in Egypt, Crete, and Venice. In Venice, particularly, he appreciates the joys of form. He thinks of the Mediterranean as the human norm and the southern exit from it as leading to the monstrous and extraordinary.

Analysis
In this closing section of Part II, the theme of division and departure is elaborated. As Aziz’s suspicion of Fielding grows, he and Fielding come close to an open break. Aziz archly calls Fielding a “naughty boy.” Annoyed, Fielding calls him a “little rotter.” The social distance between them gives an entirely different weight to the two terms. While Aziz has been playful, Fielding’s use of schoolboy slang reveals that he thinks of Aziz more as a boy than a man. Aziz is plainly and painfully aware of the disrespect implied in this expression. The differences between the two men are evident; the fact that Aziz has believed the rumor about Miss Quested demonstrates that he does not know what Fielding’s standards of behavior are. Since Aziz associates British rule with treachery, he cannot believe that this particular Englishman might be unwilling to betray a friend.

At dinner later, they speak of poetry and religion. Aziz says that poetry has lost the power of making men brave. Fielding agrees that poetry should touch life, but says that patriotic poetry is not possible in a fragmented India. They then pass on to a sister subject: religion. Aziz refers to his earlier self, the one who took everyone as a friend. He relates this to the Persian expression: the Friend, a way of referring to God. Aziz, who has previously been so moved by thoughts of Islam, now says he does not want to be a religious poet. And Fielding, who is a declared atheist, insists that there is something in religion that may be true. It has not yet been expressed, he says, but perhaps the Hindus have discovered it. This is the first sign that Fielding has any leanings toward spirituality. His dawning sense of wonder about Hindu religion will be further developed in Part III.

Fielding’s actual departure brings a shift of perspective. Within India, the novel has alternated between the perspective of the Indians and the Anglo-Indians, and set both of these against the larger perspective of Nature and the Universe. Now, as Fielding lands in different ports during his journey home, he comes to see India as strange, misshapen, almost monstrous. His sense of beauty was originally shaped by Mediterranean and European standards and he is glad, though half-guilty, to discover them again.

In his absence, Fielding’s Indian friends have begun to feel that he is a traitor. Aziz has convinced himself that Fielding tricked him about the money and that he has married Miss Quested. It is on this note of division that Part II comes to a close. The three English people who seemed to be exceptions to the prevailing attitude of superiority have left India. Fielding’s experience in returning to the Club has shown that those Anglo-Indians who are left, even the newcomers, have not changed. The Indians themselves, even Hamidullah, have closed ranks against them.

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Part II, Chapters XXVII – XXIX: Summary and Analysis

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Part III, Chapter XXXIII: Summary and Analysis