A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Part II, Chapters XII – XIV: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What do visitors usually feel about their experience of the Marabar Caves? Why do they find it difficult to discuss them?

2. What do the walls of the circular chamber look like when a match is lit inside?

3. What version of Miss Quested’s remark in the Club reaches Aziz?

4. In what ways does Aziz rely on his friends’ help to organize the expedition?

5. Why does Aziz suggest the women send their servant back? Why do they agree?

6. Why do Fielding and Godbole miss the train?

7. What is Mrs. Moore’s opinion of marriage?

8. What mistake does Aziz make in overrating hospitality?

9. How does Aziz characterize the three Moghul Emperors he mentions, and why does he prefer Babur to Alamgir?

10. What causes Mrs. Moore to fall into a state of despair?

1. Visitors tend to be unsure whether or not they have had an interesting experience, or whether they have had an experience at all. It is the monotony of the caves, their lack of ornamentation, that makes them difficult to describe.

2. In the light of a match, the walls look like a mirror inlaid with beautiful colors.

3. According to the version that reaches Aziz, the ladies have been waiting for his invitation to the caves and are deeply offended because it has not arrived.

4. Aziz asks Fielding to invite the ladies for him, he borrows servants from his friends and cutlery from Mahmoud Ali. His greatest challenge is the elephant, which he manages by enlisting Hamidullah Begum to call on Nureddin’s mother and asks her to ask Nureddin to approach the Nawab Bahadur about the elephant.

5. Aziz wants the servant gone because he is a Hindu; the ladies agree because he has acted snobbish and aloof.

6. Godbole delayed them by doing a pujah, or ceremony of religious worship.

7. She feels that marriage has been overrated, and that centuries of sexual relations have not brought people closer to understanding each other.

8. Aziz mistakes hospitality for intimacy and does not understand its inherent possessiveness.

9. Aziz says that Babur never abandoned hospitality and pleasure, and that he never betrayed a friend. The more pious Alamgir, he says, reserved his disapproval for Akbar, who attempted to embrace all of India with his new, syncretizing religion.

10. Terrified in the cave, Mrs. Moore has lost control. She begins to feel that the echo is destroying her values and the idea of value itself. As she sits alone, the incomprehensible vastness of the universe makes her Christian faith seem ridiculous.

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Part I, Chapters IX – XI: Questions and Answers


Part II, Chapters XV – XVII: Questions and Answers