A Passage to India Part III, Chapter XXXVI: Questions and Answers

E. M. Forster

Part III, Chapter XXXVI: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why doesn’t the usual dramatic performance depicting the life of Krishna take place?

2. Why is it difficult for Aziz to understand the atmosphere that surrounds the festival?

3. Why does Aziz intend to bring the ointment back with him after treating Ralph? Why does he change his mind?

4. What is the Sweeper’s band? What is its function in the festival?

5. Who are the letters from and what do they say?

6. Why is Aziz rough with Ralph at first? When and why does his attitude change?

7. Why is Aziz puzzled by his gratitude toward Mrs. Moore?

8. What is the place that Ralph directs Aziz toward in the boat?

9. What are the “syllables of salvation” Aziz hears when the chant changes?

10. What upsets the two boats?

Answers
1. It is traditionally performed in front of the Rajah, who is dead.

2. As a Muslim, Aziz does not participate. He is also aware of the suspicion and selfishness that characterize Mau for most of the year, and does not understand how these could have been suspended.

3. Aziz changes his mind when he begins to see Ralph as Mrs. Moore’s son. He wants to give him a present in acknowledgment, and the ointment is the only one available.

4. The Sweepers are Untouchables, the lowest caste in India. This is a moment reserved for the despised and rejected. All other music is silenced; it is their tune alone that will bring the god out of his house.

5. The letters are from Heaslop and Miss Quested. Heaslop’s indicates that he wants to make up a quarrel with Fielding. Miss Quested’s shows concern for Ralph Moore and a sense of a debt that she owes to India.

6. Aziz is still angry and ashamed. He perceives Ralph as weak, and this increases his cruelty. Then the chanting reaches his ears. The mood changes, and Ralph’s perceptiveness reminds Aziz of Mrs. Moore.

7. Aziz knows that Mrs. Moore did not actually do anything tangible for him.

8. He directs him toward an effigy of the Rajah’s dead father.

9. For Aziz, the syllables of salvation are “Esmiss Esmoor,” the chant that preceded Miss Quested’s recantation at the trial.

10. The two boats capsize when Stella moves back and forth between Fielding and Aziz.