Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1083
Colonel Maggs: Anglo-Indian political agent, an opponent of Aziz
Jemila, Ahmed, and Karim: Aziz’s children
Ralph Moore: Fielding’s brother-in-law, Mrs. Moore’s son
Dr. Aziz leaves the palace the next morning to return to his house. He sees Godbole, but the devotee indicates he does not want to be disturbed. Absent-mindedly, Godbole tells Aziz that “he” has arrived at the European Guest House. Knowing that Fielding is coming on an official visit, and that he has married, Aziz understands that this refers to Fielding. Holding to his old mistake, Aziz assumes his wife is Miss Quested.
We learn that while he was still in Chandrapore, he had received a letter from Fielding telling of his approaching marriage. Aziz had tossed the letter to Mahmoud Ali, telling him to answer it, and had destroyed subsequent letters.
Aziz lives in Mau, with a woman, and has his children with him. He is tolerated in this Hindu state, but does have one enemy in Colonel Maggs, the British Political Agent from the Criminal Investigation Department. However, the Viceroy’s policy has changed, and British influence now has less weight; the Rajah refuses to dismiss Aziz.
Aziz tears up the note in which Fielding tells him he is coming with his wife and her brother and requests help in supplying things for the State Guest House and in complying with court etiquette. He wants to avoid seeing the visitors.
The morning after the Krishna celebration, Aziz takes his children with him to visit the shrine of an Islamic saint. Inside the Shrine of the Head are many bees’ nests, but the children are not stung. Aziz and the children go on to visit a tiny mosque and then wander over an old deserted fort, where they meet with a line of prisoners. Referring to a ritual that will be reenacted during the Krishna procession that night, the boys ask them which one will be pardoned. One prisoner inquires about the Rajah’s health. Aziz tells him that it is always improving, although in fact, the Rajah died after the ceremony. In order not to dim the festival, the death is being concealed
The children see Fielding and his brother-in-law below. When the two Englishmen enter the shrine, they are attacked by bees and rush out again. Aziz’s mood improves. He shouts to them, advising the brother-in-law, who has been stung, to stay away from him and lie down in a pool of water. It has begun to rain. Aziz pulls some stings from the man’s wrists, and speaks roughly to him.
Fielding calls to Aziz in unfriendly tones and asks why his letters have not been answered. It rains harder and Fielding imperatively suggests that Aziz accompany them to their carriage. Fielding begins to complain sternly of the lack of hospitality at the Guest House. He tells Aziz that they want to see the torchlight procession that night.
When they reach the carriage, Aziz says, “Jump in, Mr. Quested....” Fielding replies, “Who on earth is Mr. Quested?” Aziz’s mistake is revealed, and he pales. Fielding is friendly, scathing, and scornful all at once. Aziz’s shame turns to rage and he declares that he wants nothing to do with the English.
This concluding section of the novel takes place in the season after the welcome monsoon rains have come. The rains bring not only relief from the heat, but also fertility to the fields and prosperity to human beings.
This chapter, which begins on the morning after the festival, explores the world of secular power. This is a Hindu state. Furthermore, it seems that British policy has changed and these states are now allowed more control over their own affairs. This annoys Colonel Maggs, the British political agent who would like to harass Aziz. Aziz feels secure in Mau. He is living with a woman and has his children with him. He is in charge of the hospital and has been the Rajah’s personal physician. Now the Rajah is dead, and no one yet knows what his successor will be like. This hints at possible change, but Aziz is not greatly concerned.
Although he is not a Hindu, the site of Aziz’s first meeting with Fielding suggests that the doctor is now on his own ground. Aziz, who has tried to avoid meeting Fielding, is at an old fort containing the Muslim Shrine of the Head and a small mosque. Thus, it is a parallel to Aziz’s first meeting with Mrs. Moore at the mosque. There, the two strangers had opened their hearts to one another. Here at the fort, with its military connotations, the two friends meet as adversaries. As if to signal this, a swarm of bees attack the Englishmen.
The change in Aziz has already been indicated by his tearing up the note Fielding sends him after arriving at the Guest House. Aziz has a new sense of power and has flouted hospitality, which was once his cardinal virtue. He ignores even basic requests from Fielding. In climbing the hill to the fort, Fielding’s party symbolically suggests the invasion of India by the British.
The attack by a swarm of bees immediately puts the English at a disadvantage. Aziz is pleased. He demonstrates his new sense of power, and his old resentment, by his offhand approach to Fielding and his condescending treatment of Ralph Moore. Fielding complains of the contrast between the hospitable reception they have received in other Hindu states and the inattentiveness shown in Mau.
Another element of the plot is resolved when this meeting finally reveals that Mahmoud Ali has duped Aziz, and that Aziz’s dark suspicions of Fielding are unwarranted. When Aziz discovers that Fielding’s wife is actually Mrs. Moore’s daughter, and not Miss Quested, he is mortified by his mistake. Instead of apologizing, he allows his shame to turn to anger and shouts that he wants nothing more to do with the English. This open fury, too, indicates that Aziz is now able to behave toward Fielding like an equal, not like a subject under British rule.
When he calms down, he realizes that hearing the name of Mrs. Moore/Esmiss Esmoor has had a curious effect on him. He feels as if she had come to help him. Transfigured by her death, Mrs. Moore’s spirit is able to transcend the barriers of ethnic conflict that separate the living from each other.
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