A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Part III, Chapter XXXVII: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 871

Fielding and Aziz go for their last ride together in the Mau jungles. The Rajah’s death has been announced. From the official point of view, the visit is a failure. Every day Godbole has promised to show Fielding the high school, but has always made some excuse. Now Aziz tells him that the school has been converted into a granary. The school only exists on paper.

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Fielding feels that the visit has been a success in terms of friendship. He and Aziz have resumed their old relationship. They look around at the bright scenery and see a cobra. When they stop to let it pass, Aziz shows Fielding a charming letter he wants to send Miss Quested, expressing his gratitude. Fielding is pleased. Aziz apologizes for his old suspicions. Fielding suggests that Aziz talk to Stella, who also believes the incident at the caves and all its repercussions have been expunged.

They both know that this is good-bye, since there seems to be no place left for their friendship. Fielding has now become a part of Anglo-India. He is not sure he would be able to defy his own people again as he did before.

Fielding speaks again of the calm that Mau has brought his wife. He asks Aziz about the Krishna festival. Aziz knows little of it besides its name. Fielding explains that he wants to discover its spiritual side. Aziz still professes ignorance and indifference to Hindu reactions. Fielding tells Aziz that he wants to understand why Ralph and Stella are drawn to Hinduism, though not to its outward forms.

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Aziz resists Fielding’s attempts to connect him to Ralph and Stella. He adds a line to the letter to Miss Quested, telling her that from now on he will remember her along with the sacred name of Mrs. Moore.
They argue about politics all the way back to Mau. Fielding maintains that without the British, things fall apart in India. He accuses Aziz of forgetting his medicine and going back to charms. He also scoffs at the theme of Aziz’s poems. For his part, Aziz wants to see the British thrown out of India. He tells Fielding that when England is in difficulties, in the next European war, it will be time for the Indians.

Aziz promises that if his own generation cannot expel the English, his children’s generation will. The two men embrace, acknowledging that they both want friendship.

Although the facts may never be known, the incident in the caves has mysteriously been resolved. Both Aziz and Stella, in different ways, are aware that the past has been put to rest. The meeting between Fielding and Aziz, and between Aziz and Ralph, has obviously contributed to clearing up misunderstandings. Remembering what took place during Godbole’s dance, we must add that his ecstatic transformation of Mrs. Moore also dispelled the shadows he had perceived as clinging around her spirit. Those clinging shadows had affected everyone and everything connected with the original trial.

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This final chapter continues to explore the theme of Hindu mysticism. It is surprising to find that Fielding, the self-described rationalist and atheist, is now the one who insists on questioning Aziz about the Krishna festival. Aziz, who identified with Islam and religious poetry, has previously declared he did not want to be a religious poet. Now he is bored by the topic of spirituality. This is a Hindu festival, yet the idea of an unattainable God who is both with and without attributes is basic to Islam. For Forster’s purposes, it was necessary to alter Aziz’s character along pragmatic and political lines.

At first, Fielding believes that since Aziz is an Oriental, he will have a spiritual understanding, and attempts to bring him together with Ralph and Stella. Aziz makes his lack of interest clear. Fielding acknowledges that both his wife and her brother have an inner tranquility and an access to spiritual realities that he lacks. He draws a distinction between these two, who are spiritual seekers, and himself, Miss Quested, and Aziz, who are not.

Sustained by their renewed friendship, Fielding and Aziz are able to confront each other directly. Fielding has become a conservative. Although he earlier refused to endorse the formula: “England holds India for her good,” he now believes in the necessity of British rule for India. He has begun to identify with the Anglo-Indians and finds it hard to believe that he once defied them. The reversal that has taken place in Aziz has also taken place in Fielding; their opposing loyalties are now sharply defined.

Now that Fielding and Aziz are on opposite sides, they express their opposing views on British rule in India. Fielding jeers that India slips into superstition and backwardness when not directly under British supervision. Aziz’s statement that the Indians’ time will come when the British go to war is an implied threat, hinting that the Indians will not stand by them.

Politics give way to a reaffirmation of friendship as the two men embrace and affirm their affection for each other. Geography and politics, however, ensure that this friendship has no place in the world as it is when the novel ends.

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Part III, Chapter XXXVI: Summary and Analysis