Suggested Essay Topics
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 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...
(The entire section is 1,141 words.)