A Passage to India Part I, Chapters IX – XI: Questions and Answers

E. M. Forster

Part I, Chapters IX – XI: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Rafi called “the Sherlock Holmes of Chandrapore”? Is he an accurate detective?

2. How do Aziz’s visitors react to the poem he recites?

3. Why does Fielding’s remark about atheism lead the Indians to ask him why the English are justified in holding India?

4. What is the reply Fielding could have made and doesn’t? Why not?

5. Why are the Indians unable to understand the terms in which Fielding is talking?

6. Why had Aziz ordered his servant not to bring Fielding’s horse when the other visitors left?

7. What is the corollary that Aziz adds to his remark that all men are brothers?

8. On what grounds do the Hindus and Muslims begin to quarrel?

9. How does Fielding feel about intimacy?

10. Why does Aziz think that Fielding is unwise?

Answers
1. Rafi claims to know everyone’s secrets, but most of the rumors he purveys turn out to be inaccurate.

2. Although Hamidullah is the only one beside Aziz who is a reader of poetry, the rest are touched by it; they appreciate its pathos and it voices their loneliness.

3. The Indians take it for granted that authority should be rooted in spiritual qualities. On hearing that most educated English people are atheists, they naturally question the grounds for English rule of “spiritual” India.

4. The standard British answer would be: “England holds India for her good.” Fielding cannot in honesty say this, since he does not entirely believe it.

5. Fielding is talking in terms of chance and self-interest. The Indians are used to thinking in terms of justice and morality, and find it difficult to comprehend an argument that makes no reference to these values.

6. Aziz wanted to detain Fielding so they could have a conversation alone.

7. He says that all men are brothers when they behave as such.

8. They begin to insult each other and each other’s relatives, seemingly out of latent hostility. No particular incident provokes these insults.

9. Fielding realizes he will not become an intimate friend of Aziz, or of anyone else. Then he reflects that this is all right with him.

10. Fielding’s candid talk with a group of people he doesn’t know very well seems reckless to Aziz, who warns that they might be inclined to harm him by reporting his words to others.