A Passage to India has a tripartite structure labeled mosque, caves, and temple. Each section serves as a symbolic signpost and corresponds to the seasons of the Indian year.
After being summoned to the house of Major Callendar, Dr. Aziz, a Moslem doctor at the government hospital, discovers that the major has gone and that he must walk back to his house because two English women departed in his hired tonga (two-wheeled vehicle). While stopping at a mosque on his way back to Chandrapore, Aziz meets Mrs. Moore, the mother of Ronald Heaslop, the city magistrate. Aziz and Mrs. Moore seem to “connect” with each other and share a common understanding of life. Under the racially fragmented system of British colonialism, however, neither the British nor the Indians can speak publicly of this kind of communication. The elderly Mrs. Moore invites Aziz to walk back to the club with her and introduces him to Adela Quested, newly arrived from England and the fiancé of her son. Although A Passage to India clearly addresses social and political issues, the major theme is the plight of the human race. The fact that the characters struggle unsuccessfully to “connect” in the novel indicates Forster’s pessimism, yet he portrays a desire on the part of Aziz, Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Adela to understand and to establish meaningful relationships with each other.
Mrs. Moore and Adela want to see the real India and complain about the colonialized India that they have seen. Turton, a member of the British club, holds a bridge party for them and invites a few native Indian guests. The party is a failure, in that the Indians separate into groups apart from the British and the situation is uncomfortable. Fielding, the government college principal who associates freely with the Indians, invites the ladies to tea at his home. Adela persuades him to include Aziz and Professor Godbole, a Hindu teacher and associate of Fielding. At the tea, Adela and Mrs. Moore have a refreshing conversation with Aziz and Godbole. Aziz is overjoyed by the interaction of the group members and invites all of them to visit the Marabar Caves. Mrs. Moore and Adela accept the invitation, and Aziz plans an elaborate outing.
Heaslop arrives to escort his mother and his fiancé to a game of polo and is very rude to Aziz. The incident causes Adela and Heaslop to quarrel, and she breaks off their engagement. The couple then goes for a ride, and after striking an unidentified animal on the road, Adela changes her mind, and they are reconciled.
Unfortunately, Godbole and Fielding miss their train and Aziz must escort the British ladies to the Marabar Caves alone. Mrs. Moore is frightened by a loud booming echo in the first cave and stops to rest. Considering the gulf between the British and Indians, Mrs. Moore sees the futility of her Christian and...
(The entire section is 1174 words.)