A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

Start Free Trial

Suggested Essay Topics

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Part I, Chapters I – III
1. Compare and contrast the ways in which social cohesiveness is maintained among the Muslims and the Anglo-Indians. Include a description of their social habits, attitudes, and opinions.

2. Discuss the phenomenon of the outsider. Who are the actual and potential outsiders in the novel? In what way are the Muslims and the English outsiders to each other?

Part I, Chapters IV – VI
1. Religion can be either a matter of outward observance or deep inward feeling. Contrast the religious beliefs of Mr. Sorley and Mr. Graysford, Ronny Heaslop, Aziz, and Mrs. Moore.

2. Exclusion is a social mechanism that maintains the cohesiveness of a social group. Discuss ways in which exclusion is promoted in A Passage to India. Which characters attempt to work toward inclusion rather than exclusion? Give your opinion on whether exclusion is always undesirable or whether it is sometimes necessary.

Part I, Chapter VII
1. Do you think Fielding’s party was a success or a failure? Support your argument with examples.

2. Harmony is a quality not often depicted in A Passage to India. Professor Godbole seems to embody it. What are the signs by which we can tell that the Professor leads a harmonious life?

Part I, Chapter VIII
1. Trace the theme of identification, or labeling, in this chapter. Give examples, and show the different contexts in which it occurs. How does Miss Quested feel about labeling? Heaslop? In your opinion, is labeling desirable or undesirable?

2. Heaslop uses the term “show Indian.” Our term is “tokenism.” In what ways is the Nawab Bahadur a token Indian? Explain.

Part I, Chapters IX – XI
1. Discuss the following pairs of opposites: wisdom and honesty; intimacy and clarity. Why does Aziz think the first pair are opposites? Why does Fielding believe the second pair are incompatible? Present your own view, with examples.

2. Trace the way in which rumors arise in the societies of Chandrapore, giving examples of similarities and differences between this process and the way rumors are transmitted in our society. Include your conclusions about the origins and effects of rumors.

Part II, Chapters XII – XIV
1. Describe Aziz’s concept of hospitality and his hospitable behavior in this chapter. Forster tells us that hospitality is a capital virtue. He suggests it may also be a vice. Decide whether or not you agree and explain your reasons.

2. Analyze the character of Mrs. Moore as it is revealed in Chapter XIV. Are her reactions consistent with her behavior in previous chapters? If not, show how the change is indicated and explain why it happens.

Part II, Chapters XV – XVII
1. Discuss the way in which people misinterpret each other’s motives in this section. Can you think of explanations that would have helped to clarify the situation? Write a sample dialogue between Miss Quested and Aziz, and between Aziz and Fielding, that would have prevented Aziz’s arrest.

2. Trace the ways in which people are blamed and attempt to share or avoid blame in this section. Include a discussion of self-blame and blaming others. How is blame related to guilt?

Part II, Chapters XVIII – XXI
1. Write an essay in which you explore the dangers of herd mentality. Include examples from the novel and also from history or contemporary life.

2. To Major Callendar’s mentality, Fielding is a weakling. Explain why the Major thinks as he does. Is Fielding’s action in resigning from the Club weakness or courage? Explain.

Part II, Chapters XXII – XXIII
1. Like Mrs. Moore, Miss Quested’s character seems...

(This entire section contains 1141 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

to have changed entirely. Describe the changes that have occurred in the two women and suggest why they might have occurred.

2. Discuss the question of evil as it is presented in these chapters. Differentiate between different types and degrees of evil. Do you agree with Mrs. Moore’s insights about the nature of evil?

Part II, Chapter XXIV
1. Decide whether or not you think the trial is a farce. Explain and support your position.

2. Give your opinion as to why Miss Quested changed her testimony at the crucial time. Fielding believes she has had a nervous breakdown. Are there other explanations? Are there clues that the change is coming?

Part II, Chapters XXV – XXVI
1. In this chapter, Hamidullah and Fielding have very different reactions to Miss Quested. Write an essay in which you include a portrait of Miss Quested from each point of view. Give your assessment of her actions and her character.

2. Develop the implications of Hamidullah’s statement that more has been broken than will ever be mended. Outline the possible repercussions of the trial within the different societies of Chandrapore.

Part II, Chapters XXVII – XXIX
1. Write an essay in which you explore the effects of Mrs. Moore’s death on each character and on Chandrapore as a whole.

2. Discuss the self-knowledge that Miss Quested has found in India. Has this knowledge brought her happiness? Is there a value in self-knowledge that goes beyond happiness?

Part II, Chapters XXX – XXXII
1. How does the misunderstanding between Aziz and Fielding exemplify the distance between the cultures they each belong to? How and why has each offended the other? Explain.

2. Aziz tells Fielding that he was a child when they first met. Explain what he means by this. Write an essay analyzing the ways in which Aziz has changed.

Part III, Chapter XXXIII
1. Forster describes the ceremony as the annihilation of reason, form, and beauty. Yet it is also presented as a celebration of God’s love. Are these concepts compatible? Explain Forster’s position and then present your own evaluation.

2. Professor Godbole is depicted in a state of religious ecstasy. According to this chapter, what are the characteristics of this state? In what sense is Professor Godbole imitating God?

Part III, Chapters XXXIV – XXXV
1. Hospitality has been a major theme in the minds of the Indian characters in this book. Describe the hospitality—or lack of it—that Fielding is offered in Mau. What accounts for his treatment?

2. Describe the character of Aziz as he appears in this section. How would you assess the changes that have occurred in him?

Part III, Chapter XXXVI
1. Trace the role that music and chanting play in this chapter and what functions they perform, both within the ritual and beyond it.

2. Write a character portrait of Ralph Moore.

Part III, Chapter XXXVII
1. Taking Ralph and Stella as projections of Mrs. Moore, how do they reflect some of her qualities? In what ways have they gone beyond their mother? Do they affect others in the way their mother did? Give examples.

2. Discuss Aziz’s dreams of emancipation from British rule in light of what actually happened before and after India became independent. Considering that Indian troops fought both for and against the Allies in World War II, and that India gained its independence shortly after it, was his remark about the next European war prophetic?


Topics for Further Study