A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

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Part II, Chapters XXX – XXXII: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Major Roberts: the new civil surgeon

Young Milner: the new city magistrate

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...

(The entire section is 954 words.)