A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

Start Free Trial

Why is "A Passage to India" divided into three parts: mosque, caves, and temple?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The novel is divided into three parts because each section focuses on a particular group of people, their characters and season. The titles in each section reflect the events to arise in that particular section. In “The mosque’’, focus is on the Muslims. It seeks to highlight the strained relations...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

amongst the Muslims, Indians and their British rulers, and attempts made to bridge the gap between them. For instance, they organized mixed ‘’Bridge-Parties’’ and excursion.

The spring season is symbolic of a rather modest character. In the second section, ‘’Caves’’ the British are the major characters. Here, Aziz is arrested after the excursion for allegedly assaulting Miss Quested. He is denied bail but is eventually released. The season is summer, symbolizing harshness and irrationality.

The third section,’’Temple’’ is on events years later. Most of the characters have relocated to different areas and have new career status. The setting is in autumn, a rainy season in India. Focus is on a Hindu festival (Birth of Krishna). The rain symbolizes a renewal as the characters try to make amends and peace as in the case of Fielding and Aziz.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Forster uses the titles of the sections to foreshadow what is to come in each part. Each section focuses on a specific group of people, a specific season, and a certain kind of behavior in each of the three sections.

In "Mosque" the focus is on the Muslim characters. Recall that we meet Aziz and his friends in Chapter II; Aziz meets Mrs. Moore in a mosque. The season is spring, a time of cool weather in India; the behavior will be characterized by relative restraint and sanity.

In "Caves" the British are the major characters. The hot weather of summer is associated with irrationality, nightmares, hallucination, and visions of cosmic disorder.

In "Temple," the final section, the season is autumn, which is rainy in India. The setting focuses on a Hindu festival (the birth of Krishna); rains accompany revival and refreshment, a renewal of the earth and of life itself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The novel is broken into three parts, Mosque, Caves, and Temple. What is the significance of this, and what is being described in the Caves portion of the novel?

In the caves is a typical culture clash.  The Indians are used to close quarters and having little personal space.  The British are used to much more and often consider it an affront if someone invades that space...this is true of most Western societies.

The ladies in the cave are mashed on all sides by the Indians in the cave with them.  They, or one of them, becomes overwrought and panics.  She actually acuses Dr. Aziz of inappropriate behavior with regard to her person.

Of course, he has done nothing of the sort, but their inability to understand each other due to cultural differences deepens the chasm between them and causes problems later in the book.

Last Updated on