a passage to india

Title :: A Passage to India
Author :: E.M. Forster
Completed :: Mar 24 2008
Challenges :: Decades Challenge : 1001 Books
Rating :: 4/5

My heart is for my own people henceforward.

Another brilliant Forster, makes me wonder why I haven't read any of his work before now! Prejudices and racism are alive and well and are running rampant in this tale of British India. The three main characters, Adela Quested, Dr. Aziz and Cyril Fielding represent very different social circles that weave together the social stratosphere of the time.

Adela Quested arrives in India escorted by Mrs. Moore, both desire to see the real India by escaping the confines of the British commune and Mrs. Moore also hopes to engage Adela to her son, Ronny. Mrs. Moore first meets Dr. Aziz, a native, when she is visiting a mosque at night. Dr. Aziz takes to Mrs. Moore immediately and sees that she's a woman who understands and truly appreciates the local color and isn't afraid to embrace it. A trip to the Marabar Caves is arranged so that Dr. Aziz can show Mrs. Moore and Adela the real India they've been longing to see. Once on the train the ladies find that they are bereft of their male British escorts who incidentally missed the train. They decide to continue as planned hoping they'll catch up. While visiting one of the caves Mrs. Moore is overwhelmed by the sound of the echo and begins to feel a bit claustrophobic causing her to sit out on the rest of the cave exploring. Adela goes off with Dr. Aziz and the local guide to visit a second set of caves. It is here where a set of events takes place that will leave the reader quite confused as to what really happened...

Dr. Aziz is a respected doctor among his Muslim friends. Upon meeting Mrs. Moore in the mosque he becomes interested in getting to know her more as well as act as a guide to his country. He's the kind of man that makes friends easily and wants to be the perfect host. He is adamant about providing a glimpse into the real India and showing Mrs. Moore and Adela around the Marabar Caves even though he himself has never been there. It becomes clear that Dr. Aziz prefers the company of Mrs. Moore over that of Adela who he finds to be a little closed off or as Fielding calls her, a prig. So when Mrs. Moore is unable to continue the tour Dr. Aziz is less than thrilled to continue with Adela, especially when she so boldly asks him whether he has more than one wife. Annoyed by her audacity he sits down to have a cigarette while she explores the caves. When he finishes and goes off to look for Adela, he can't find her until he realizes that she's climbed down the hill to greet a friend in her car.

Whereas Adela represents British society and Dr. Aziz Indian, Fielding provides a type of balance between the two. He sees and understands although doesn't always approve of attitudes on both sides of the rope. I think Fielding's character displays the difficulties that can arise from trying to fit in with the locals when they already have this idea of what 'your people' are like. And on the flip side 'your people' begin questioning your loyalty or your motives. I'd like to think that this is something unique to that time period and situation but I'm afraid it's not. So long as people continue to group people and view them as unavoidably different instead of seeing them as a person like themselves then there will always be these type of feelings.

But what really happened in those caves??? I think I do but I don't want to share it here in case it gives anything away. If you've read the book and have an idea I'd like to hear it.

Other Thoughts ::
: a girl walks into a bookstore...
: my own little reading room
: so many precious books, so little time
: you're next - reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link!


posted by Ashleigh @ 21:45,


At 14 April 2008 at 15:51, Blogger Danielle said...

I went through a Forster phase some years back, but I never did get to this one. Maybe this year--your review makes me want to start it now! Last night PBS showed the new version of A Room with a View, but I much prefer the Merchant Ivory version.

At 5 May 2008 at 17:42, Blogger Katherine said...

I read the same book:


At 5 May 2008 at 18:13, Anonymous gautami tripathy said...

I linked it to my review!


At 5 May 2008 at 21:59, Blogger Teddy Rose said...

I also read this one and linked you review to the bottom of mine. Here is my link:




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    ashleigh (ash'lė) n.
    1: egyptologist; currently living in the uk attempting to obtain a phd in egyptology, hoping in the end there will be a job.
    2: literary; reading to escape reality, to improve conversation, for inspiration.
    3: crafter; crocheting and needlework, creating heirlooms, keeping the world warm.
    4: dreamer; head in the clouds, full of fantasies, wishing to be someone else, somewhere else.
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