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LECTURE 27 NOVEL II 1. SYNOPSIS  Discussion on Chapters 27 - 37  Themes, questions and suggestions  Power, Justice and Judgment, Gender  Friendship,

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Presentation on theme: "LECTURE 27 NOVEL II 1. SYNOPSIS  Discussion on Chapters 27 - 37  Themes, questions and suggestions  Power, Justice and Judgment, Gender  Friendship,"— Presentation transcript:

1 LECTURE 27 NOVEL II 1

2 SYNOPSIS  Discussion on Chapters  Themes, questions and suggestions  Power, Justice and Judgment, Gender  Friendship, Religion, Life, Consciousness  Existence, Race, Contrasting Regions 2

3 Chapter 27 & 28  On the rooftop, after the victory celebration is over, Fielding asks Aziz to be kind to Adela and not to sue her for damages. Aziz refuses. Fielding tells Aziz that Mrs. Moore is dead, but Aziz refuses to believe him. 3

4  The novel shifts back to Mrs. Moore, and tells us that Mrs. Moore died somewhere in the Indian Ocean on the way back to England. She was buried at sea.  A myth about Mrs. Moore spreads around Chandrapore. Rumor has it that Ronny killed his mother to prevent her from testifying in defense of Aziz. Places rumored to be her grave start collecting little ritual offerings, as if she were a goddess. 4

5  Ronny feels somewhat responsible for his mother's death because he pushed her to leave so soon, in the middle of the heat. But he explains away the guilt with the thought that it was partly her fault for being so difficult. He decides to break off his engagement with Adela after Aziz's suit against her for damages is decided. 5

6 Chapter 29 & 30  After the kafuffle around Aziz's trial, the Lieutenant- General visits Chandrapore. He considers himself more enlightened than the rest of the civil administrators, and takes a liking to Fielding. The Lieutenant-General comments that the local administrators have made a mess of things, and he will ask them to re-instate Fielding to the local club.Adela continues staying on at the college, and Fielding stays at Hamidullah's. 6

7  Fielding attempts to help Adela to write a letter of apology to Aziz, but they both realize that the letter is unsuccessful because Adela has no affection for Aziz or for Indians in general. Or for anyone at all, Adela concludes, even Ronny. 7

8  Aziz abruptly decides to drop his suit because he decides that that's what Mrs. Moore would have wanted.The suit dismissed, Ronny finally breaks off his engagement with Adela.Adela is devastated, but not surprised. She leaves Chandrapore, and on the ship ride back, decides that she has to look up Mrs. Moore's other children, Ralph and Stella. 8

9  After the trial, things are pretty good between the Hindus and the Muslims, joined as they are by the mutual hatred of the British.Das, the guy who presided over the trial, asks Aziz to write a poem for his brother's journal. 9

10  Aziz finds himself unable to write a poem. He wants to celebrate India, but he can't. He decides the only cure for his writer's block is to get out of British India and decides that he's going to find a job at one of Hindu princely states.Hamidullah doesn't want Aziz to go. He chides Aziz for dropping his lawsuit against Adela, and asks Aziz if he's heard the rumor going around about Fielding and Adela having an affair. Aziz is irritated by the rumor, but half-believes it. 10

11 Chapter 31 & 32  Fielding has been away at a conference, so Aziz isn't able to confront him about the rumor of Fielding's affair with Adela immediately.When Fielding returns, Aziz meets him at the train station, and Fielding invites him to dinner.On the ride into town together, Aziz notifies Fielding that there's another scandal afoot. Mr. McBryde was caught having an affair with Miss Derek, and Mrs. McBryde is divorcing him. 11

12  Of course, what Aziz really wants to do is find out about Fielding and Adela.Aziz finally confronts Fielding about the rumor, which Fielding dismisses as ridiculous. He calls Aziz a "little rotter," which Aziz finds horribly insulting.At the hospital, Aziz leaves Fielding, who continues on to the post office. There, Fielding sees the Collector, who invites Fielding back into the club. 12

13  The Collector makes it perfectly clear that they're inviting Fielding back at the Lieutenant-General's request, not because they feel sorry about the way they treated him.Fielding shows up at the club to acknowledge his re-instatement into the club. He chats with a few people, including McBryde, who's not sorry at all about his divorce, and a couple of new faces. 13

14  Major Callendar has been replaced by Major Roberts, the new Civil Surgeon, and Ronny has been replaced by Milner, the new Civil Magistrate. New faces, but to Fielding, the same club.At dinner, Aziz and Fielding have an awkward conversation that jumps from topic to topic. Fielding mentions that he'll be returning to England soon for some school business. Aziz then wants to talk about poetry, and Fielding expresses his hope that Aziz will continue writing poetry. 14

15  Aziz then asks Fielding if he's going to see Adela in England. Fielding replies that he might. Aziz gets annoyed, but says he has a headache.Fielding apologizes for calling Aziz a "rotter" earlier. Aziz forgives Fielding, but as Aziz leaves the college, he feels out of sorts.At home, Aziz thinks of Fielding and convinces himself that Fielding did have an affair with Adela. Aziz decides to take his children back home to Mussoorie as an excuse to avoid seeing Fielding before Fielding leaves for England. 15

16  Fielding senses something is amiss and writes Aziz a letter. But Aziz doesn't like the letter because of its rational tone.Aziz writes back that he won't be able to see Fielding again before Fielding leaves for England because he has to take his kids back to Mussoorie. Besides, when Fielding returns to India, Aziz will probably be working away at some far- off Indian state. 16

17  (This is Aziz's indirect way of accusing Fielding of ruining Aziz by convincing Aziz not to pursue a lucrative lawsuit against Adela.)After Fielding leaves, Aziz's friends convince him that Fielding did have an affair with Adela, and that's why Fielding convinced Aziz not to pursue a lawsuit against her. Aziz manages to further convince himself that Fielding has actually married Adela. 17

18 Fielding passes through Egypt, Crete, and Venice on the way back to England. In these places, he notices a pleasing sense of form in the architecture and the general environment, whereas in India he always felt that form was lost. Fielding arrives in England in June, where "tender romantic fancies" are revived when he sees England's summer flowers. 18

19 Chapter 33 & 34  Fast forward a couple of years. We're in the palace at Mau, a Hindu principality hundreds of miles away from Chandrapore. Professor Godbole is rocking a religious ceremony. The palace is packed with Hindus of all castes.Godbole, as Minister of Education, has the honor of presiding over the choir. They sing and dance to celebrate the birth of God. The hall is surrounded with banners inscribed with messages from poets, one of which is in English, with a major typo: "God si Love." 19

20  As Godbole dances away, he goes into a trance, where he's flooded with random images. He loves everything just as God loves everything. He remembers an old woman from Chandrapore – a reference to Mrs. Moore. He loves her too. Then he sees an image of a wasp.How he could see the same wasp as well as Mrs. Moore isn't explained. But yes, he loves the wasp too. He dances and clashes his little cymbals, a happy little bouncy ball of love. 20

21  The crowd clears a path for the Rajah, who's enfeebled by illness.Then, a few minutes before midnight, someone brings out a model of the village of Gokul for a re-enactment of the birth of the Hindu god, Shri Krishna. At midnight, a conch is blown, elephants trumpet, and incense is thrown, announcing the birth of Shri Krishna. Everyone celebrates. 21

22  A model of a cradle is brought out. Godbole reaches in and pulls out a napkin, folded to represent the infant god, and hands the napkin over to Rajah, who names it Shri Krishna and places it back in the cradle.The Rajah is carried back to his quarters, where his doctor attends him. And surprise, the doctor is Dr. Aziz. 22

23  After the Rajah leaves, more celebratory shenanigans ensue, including a kind of food fight where milk and rice gets poured out over everybody. Everybody makes merry.The chapter ends as Godbole leaves the festivities. He doesn't remember much of the whole thing, but the vision of Mrs. Moore and the wasp return to him with more vividness. 23

24  Aziz comes across Godbole as he wanders around after the festivities. Godbole mutters something about how "he" has arrived at the European Guest House. Aziz doesn't press Godbole because Godbole clearly wants to be left alone. Aziz likes Godbole – Godbole got him the post at Mau.Aziz also doesn't really want to know if "he" is here or not. "He" is Fielding, who has been assigned to visit all of the different Indian states to see what's being done about English education. 24

25  After Fielding left Chandrapore, Aziz's suspicions were only confirmed when he received a letter from Fielding announcing his marriage. Aziz didn't read any further along the letter, and, annoyed, he destroys all further letters from Fielding. But Fielding is supposed to be in Mau soon, and Aziz probably won't be able to avoid some encounter with him. 25

26  At his home, Aziz discovers a note from Godbole. It's actually a note from Fielding, with a little note from Godbole saying that he can't do anything about the note because of the festival. The note is filled with all kinds of little requests – for food, mosquito nets. They also want to see the festival.Aziz is sick of showing Europeans around India and tears the note up. He knows that it's probably impossible to avoid them, however, because of the floods created by the pouring rain. 26

27 Chapter 35 & 36  In Aziz's garden is a shrine to a Muslim saint, who is fabled to have freed prisoners from a fort at the behest of his mother. The police lopped off his head, but he continued killing off the police until he fell at his mother's door. The Shrine to the Body is in Aziz's garden; the Shrine to the Head is further off. Aziz takes his kids to the Shrine to the Head for a walk.They walk past the Shrine to the Head, which seems to be infested with bees, to the old fort, where the children play. The children report that a couple of visitors are at the Shrine of the Head. 27

28  It's Fielding and his brother-in-law.They watch Fielding and his brother-in-law walk into the Shrine to the Head, then get chased out by the bees. This amuses Aziz, who goes down to see if they need help. It seems that the brother-in-law got stung, and Aziz promises to send down some medicine.Fielding wonders at their treatment at Mau. No one seems to be paying any attention to them, as opposed to the other states where they were made to feel welcome. Aziz doesn't really explain anything; he just makes a few curt replies. 28

29  As Fielding and his brother-in-law get into the carriage, Aziz tells "Mr. Fielding" and "Mr. Quested" to get into the car. Fielding is surprised that Aziz calls his brother-in-law "Mr. Quested," and then realizes that Aziz mistakenly thinks that Fielding has married Adela. Fielding has in fact married Stella, Mrs. Moore's daughter, and the man with him is Ralph, Mrs. Moore's other son. 29

30  Fielding believes Aziz's error to be Mahmoud Ali's fault. Apparently, Mahmoud Ali wrote Fielding a rude letter for Aziz, and kept referring to Ralph as "Heaslop's brother," so clearly Mahmoud Ali knew the truth and hadn't told Aziz.Caught out in his mistake, Aziz angrily states that he's not interested in being friendly with any English person. But when Aziz returns home, he's filled with joy that Fielding hasn't married Adela. And he's happy to have met Ralph – he had promised Mrs. Moore that he'd be kind to her son. 30

31  A procession has begun to head down from the palace to the river. Aziz returns to his home to pick up a salve for Ralph's bee sting, and heads over to the European Guest House, where Fielding is staying with Ralph and Stella.On the way, he sees a boat in the Mau tank, a kind of reservoir – it's the Guest House boat, in which Aziz assumes Fielding and the other British guests are rowing. He cynically thinks that the whole thing about "seeing India" is just another way of "ruling India," seeing it in order to control it. 31

32  Believing everyone to be out on the river, he goes on to the Guest House anyway, thinking there might be some servants there he can pump for information.In the Guest House, he finds two letters on the piano. One of the letters is from Ronny Heaslop, who tells Fielding to take care of Ralph, whom he considers to be in need of care. Ronny also forgives Fielding for marrying his step-sister, and tells Fielding to tell Adela that he'd like to make up to her, too. 32

33  Ronny mentions some of the troubles he's been encountering in his new job, but blames it on the Jews.The second letter is from Adela, which mentions her feeling a "debt" to India, a phrase that mystifies Aziz. Generally, he's annoyed by how chummy they all are, referring to each other by their first names, as if nothing had happened. He bangs the keys out of irritation.He's interrupted by Ralph Moore. When Ralph confronts Aziz about his rudeness, Aziz counters that the English, specifically Adela, haven't been all to kind to him either. 33

34  Aziz offers Ralph his hand, and his attitude softens toward Ralph. Ralph doesn't find him unkind anymore, and Aziz notes how similar Ralph is to his mother in the way that he can tell whether a stranger is his friend or not instantly. But he also adds that he can't be Ralph's friend because Ralph is also related to Ronny Heaslop. 34

35  Thinking fondly of Mrs. Moore, Aziz decides that he should take Ralph out onto the tank to see the procession as an homage to Mrs. Moore. They row past an image of the Rajah's father on a tomb.Aziz tries to keep their boat out of the procession's way, for fear of offending the Hindus. He mentions that the Rajah is actually dead, a secret that's been withheld from the public so that the festivities can go on unperturbed. 35

36  Amidst much singing, Krishna's float appears in the water. Aziz sees Godbole waving his arms at him, but he's not sure why. The float of the village Gokul is also brought out into the water.All of a sudden, Aziz's boat collides with Fielding's, and they all tumble into the water.In the general confusion, the whole celebration also comes to a climax with gunfire, drumbeating, and elephant- trumpeting.They pick themselves out of the water, ignored by the celebrants, who head ba 36

37 Chapter 37  Reconciled, Aziz and Fielding go out for a horse ride. Aziz explains to Fielding why Godbole keeps refusing to show him the school. There is no school anymore. It's been turned into a granary.Aziz tells Fielding that during their accident in the water, he decided that Adela was brave for retracting her accusation and would tell her so. Fielding is pleased. Fielding is also hoping Aziz will talk to Stella, who believes that everything that happened at the Marabar has been eliminated. 37

38  Fielding tells Aziz that Stella and Ralph both suffer from "restlessness," and their experience at Mau has somehow eased their suffering.Fielding admits he doesn't understand why they seem to be such fans of Hinduism, even though they don't seem interested in the specifics of the Hindu religion. 38

39  Aziz admits he doesn't understand Hinduism much either, so they decide to talk politics. Both of them have taken a harder line in their own positions since they last met: Aziz is even more of a nationalist, while Fielding scoffs at the idea that India can become an independent nation. 39

40  Aziz claims that it's only when India becomes a nation that they can be friends. Fielding asks why they can't be friends now. They embrace each other, but their horses swerve apart.The novel ends with a panoramic view of Mau and the mysterious statement that everything in the scene says "in their hundred voices, 'No, not yet," and the sky say[s], 'No, not there'" ( ). 40

41 THEMES 41

42 Thematic structure Power Justice and Judgment GenderFriendshipReligion Life Consciousness Existence Race Contrasting Regions 42

43 Power  Set in India at a time when the country was a British colony, Forster's novel is an obvious critique of the British Empire. (For more on the historical context of the novel, check out "Setting.") The assumption that one people have a right to dominate another – what people at the time called Britain's "civilizing mission" – is constantly and consistently undercut throughout the novel. The British Empire is portrayed as a fundamentally racist institution that excludes and subjugates others. But the novel is ambivalent about Indian aspirations for independence. 43

44  It seems equally skeptical of the idea of India as an independent nation: how can a country with so much religious and social diversity be unified under one government? Is the idea of nationhood just as exclusive as the idea of empire? Is there anything beyond nation and empire, something that includes everyone, regardless of race, religion, or 44

45 Thinking teasers  How do different characters feel about the British empire? What are the differences between the English and the Indian perspectives on empire? What about the differences within the English and Indian communities? Consider, for example, the differences between Turton and the subaltern, Ronny and Mrs. Moore, or Aziz and Godbole. 45

46  How do the different characters feel about the prospect of an independent Indian nation? You might want to compare and contrast the views of Aziz, Fielding, Hamidullah, and Ronny, for starters. 46

47  What do you think is the novel's general attitude toward the British Empire? To put it bluntly, do you think the novel is saying that the empire is a good thing or a bad thing? What evidence can you cite in support of your interpretation of the novel's general attitude? 47

48 Few pointers  Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.  Through its unsympathetic portrayal of characters such as Ronny Heaslop and Mr. Turton, Forster's A Passage to India questions the ideological bases for the British Empire. Forster's A Passage to India depicts the fractures within both English and Indian society to show how difficult the passage to Indian independence was in the early 20th century. 48

49 Justice and Judgment  While the novel is certainly a critique of the British Empire (see our discussion of "Power"), it is not a wholesale rejection of everything British, European, and "Western." Why? Well, Western civilization has some plusses. There's the whole notion of civil rights, for one – the notion that all human beings have rights under the law, such as the right to a fair and timely trial, the right to confront your witnesses, and that whole innocence until proven guilty thing. 49

50  And let's not forget habeas corpus – your legal right not to be imprisoned without getting charged. In addition to this vibrant tradition of civil liberties, Western civilization also values dialogue as a way of mediating conflicts and reaching consensus. And last but not least, let's not forget that the idea of universal human rights is also critical to the Western European tradition. 50

51  Of course, we're not saying that these ideas are the exclusive property – or invention – of Western civilization. Forster's novel itself invokes both Muslim and Hindu traditions to show how there is a global tradition at work weaving the fabric of a common humanity. 51

52  But what Forster's novel does is focus in on what happens to lofty Western ideals when they get caught up in a morally corrupt institution such as the British Empire. Individual British colonial administrators such as Turton, McBryde, and Ronny Heaslop all struggle between their baser desire to mistreat Indian "natives" and their obligation to uphold the finer aspects of British culture and Western civilization. 52

53  Looming in the historical background is not only the 1857 Mutiny, but also the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, which marked the radical curtailment of civil liberties for Indians (see "Setting" for the specifics). The novel takes the occasion of Aziz's trial to show how justice becomes contaminated by the institutions – the civil administration, the military, the court system – of empire. 53

54 Thinking teasers  Consider some of the ways that the British characters take advantage of their powerful positions to treat Aziz unfairly. How is Aziz's situation complicated by the fact that he's an Indian subject in a British colony? 54

55  How do stereotypes about the "Oriental" and the Indian color the British perception of Aziz? What are some of the ways that his behavior is misinterpreted in light of those stereotypes?  Take a look at how Aziz is treated in the days leading up to the trial. What are some of the rights built into the British judicial system that prevent the British from punishing Aziz without a trial? 55

56 Some pointers  The novel reveals how racial stereotypes about the inherent criminality of the "Oriental" prevent the fair treatment of Indian subjects in the British Empire. Despite the general fiasco of the trial, the novel demonstrates that British institutions such as civil rights are a necessary barricade against the machinations of a fundamentally unjust empire. 56

57 Race  n A Passage to India, life in Chandrapore, and indeed throughout the British Empire, is deeply fissured along racial lines, with the white Europeans on one side, and everyone else on the other. Indians are referred to as "Orientals," an out-dated racial term that was applied to everyone living east of Europe, from Turkey all the way out to China. Orientals were stereotypically considered to be exotic, sensual, passive, and backward, as opposed to the intellectual, civilized, progressive Westerner (source).source 57

58  Thus Orientals, such as the Indians in A Passage to India, were considered unable to rule themselves, essentially needing the British Empire to help them toward civilization (despite the fact that they had civilizations of their own). Even as the novel criticizes this stereotyping of Orientals – or "Orientalism" – it is itself not entirely free of the Orientalist attitude. The narrator makes broad generalizations about Orientals, about their psychology and their sexuality, that shows how entrenched the Orientalist attitude is even in a novel that is sympathetic to them. 58

59 Thinking Teasers  How do the British characters feel about "Orientals" and Indians? What stereotypes characterize their attitude toward Indians? Are some British characters more racist than others? If so, which ones and how? 59

60  Take a look at the social interactions between British and Indian characters. How does race factor into their encounters? 60

61  Consider the ways that British and Indian characters are portrayed. Do you think there is a difference in the way the novel portrays these characters? Do you think that the novel also supports Orientalist stereotypes, or is it trying to criticize these stereotypes? Or both? Can you find specific instances to support your view? 61

62 Some pointers  In A Passage to India, racism against Indians can take a variety of shapes: while it is at its most vitriolic in a character such as Mrs. Turton, it can take more subtle forms in the case of an enlightened character such as Fielding. A Passage to India challenges the Orientalist stereotype that Indians are weak, passive, and incapable of governing themselves. 62

63 Gender  In addition to race, gender also divides colonial society. British colonial society in India, made up as it is of administrators and their wives, is not exactly English society in miniature – it tends to aggravate whatever is most conservative and traditional about English culture, including a traditional attitude toward women as the much weaker sex. The stereotypical idea is that Englishwomen need white knights in shining armor to save them from lusting Orientals; thus Adela, as an Englishwoman, needs to be saved from Aziz by Englishmen. 63

64  Englishwomen further demonstrate their weakness by being far more racist than their men: a character like Mrs. Turton doesn't have the benefit of her husband's education or civic-mindedness. On the other hand, British colonial society dismisses the Indian practice of purdah, or of segregating women from men, as backwards and unenlightened. 64

65  Despite its criticism of the British colonial attitude toward women, A Passage to India seems to harbor sexist attitudes. In fact, some critics have argued that female characters such as Adela and Aziz's wife are reduced to pawns who are exchanged between men to establish relationships between men, excluding the possibility of equal relationships between men and women. 65

66 Thinking teasers  Take a look at the female, English characters who have spent some time in India, including Mrs. Turton, Mrs. McBryde, and Miss Das. Do you agree with Hamidullah's claim that Englishwomen are far worse than Englishmen when it comes to dealing with Indians? 66

67  How are Adela and Mrs. Moore different from the other female, English characters? Do you think of either of them as feminist heroines? Why or why not? 67

68  Do you think the novel favors the male characters (such as Aziz and Fielding) over the female characters (such as Adela, Mrs. Moore, and Stella)? Can you point to specific passages in the novel that supports your view? 68

69 Some pointers  The racism of Englishwomen in A Passage to India is far worse than that of the Englishmen because the women lack the men's commitment to England's "civilizing mission" in India. Adela's courageous retraction at the trial defies the belief shared by the British and Indians alike that women inevitably become racist during their stay in India. 69

70 Friendship  Before the Beatles traveled to India to tootle with Ravi Shankar, Forster had already been, loving up the subcontinent. Faced with the machinery of the British Empire and the daunting task of Indian nation-building, A Passage to India asks us to consider friendship as the solution to these incredibly complex political issues. 70

71  ("All you need is love," anyone?) What makes the novel interesting, however, is its candor regarding all of the barriers the characters face in establishing their friendships, particularly with Aziz and Fielding, who are unable to bridge their cultural and political differences despite their affection for one another. Significantly, Aziz only considers Mrs. Moore and Professor Godbole as his true friends, one of whom is dead, and the other is, well, in his own mental universe, a galaxy far, far away from ordinary human interaction. 71

72 Some questions  Take a look at the numerous relationships in the novel. Which would you characterize as true friendships? Why? Consider, for example, Aziz and Mrs. Moore, Aziz and Fielding, and Adela and Aziz. What are some of the factors preventing characters who clearly like each other from becoming great friends? 72

73  Here's a hefty one: in what way can we see friendship as an alternative to imperialism or nationalism in the novel? Do you think Forster is just being way too idealistic, or do you think there's anything to the idea (expressed by Fielding) that good will plus culture and intelligence will built a better world? 73

74 Poniters  Because of its idealization of friendships beyond reciprocity – such as that between Aziz and the absent Mrs. Moore – A Passage to India cannot represent the possibility of true friendships in this world, as exemplified in the fraught relationship between Aziz and Fielding. In A Passage to India, friendships model the possibility of a mutually beneficial cultural exchange between Britain and India that does not entail the exploitative institution of empire. 74

75 Theme of Religion  Religion plays a major role in A Passage to India, dividing not only the primarily Christian British from the Indians, but also dividing Indian society from within. While Hinduism is the majority religion in India, and Islam the most significant minority, other Indian religious groups mentioned in the novel include Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Ronny Heaslop typifies the British administrator's attitude toward all religion, including Christianity, as an irrational system of beliefs. According to him, Christianity is only useful insofar as it provides divine justification for the British monarchy, and no more. 75

76  And India's plethora of religions only underscores its backwardness to someone like Ronny. The novel, however, explores how different religious traditions, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, might provide a better, more inclusive view of humanity. But no one religion in the novel is valorized over the others as the last word on life, the universe, and everything. The "boum" – a twist on the Hindu Dharmic "om" – that threatens Mrs. Moore's hold on life signals the novel's general skepticism toward all organized religions. 76

77 Thinking teasers  A number of different religious traditions are explored in the novel, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Putting aside what you know about these religions, can you explain how the novel represents these religions? What are the similarities and differences in their general values as depicted in the novel? 77

78  What are the religious background of the different characters? How do the differences in their religious backgrounds affect their relationships with each other? Some critics argue that the novel sets up Hinduism as a superior religious system to Islam and Christianity because of its inclusiveness. Do you agree? Why or why not? 78

79  While A Passage to India certainly shows how religious differences divide colonial society in Chandrapore, it also shows how the value of love in Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam can contribute to a bridging between cultures. While Hinduism is represented as the closest to the novel's principle of inclusiveness, it is weakened by its own internal divisions and caste hierarchies. 79

80 Theme of Life, Consciousness, Existence  A novel that keeps digging at the way human beings draw lines to separate themselves from each other, lines of race and culture and nationality, inevitably has to ask well, what else is out there? If not race, religion, gender, culture, nationality, our very humanity – who are we? What are we? Why are we here? What is the meaning of it all? A Passage to India suggests that there may not be anything deeper and truer out there. It may all just be – a "muddle" (1.7.71). 80

81  All of it – ancient civilizations, grand empires, powerful potentates, and the humble peasant picking at the dirt – could be reduced to so much half-cooked pudding, primordial ooze. Despite the general gunkiness of existence, A Passage to India shows various characters as they strive to give a form to the muddle, to give form as a way of making sense of the muddle. 81

82  Muddled, yet? Well, think of Forster's form as one of those molds you use to make shapeless dough into nifty cookie shapes, or a mold you might use to turn mud into building blocks. Forms help us make the formless and shapeless into something we can recognize – a gingerbread man, a sand castle. In the novel, somebody like Mrs. Turton might use the mold or form of race to turn humankind into something she can recognize: English humans, Indian humans. 82

83  Obviously, the novel rejects Mrs. Turton's molds. What's the alternative? Are there molds/forms that can give shape to human existence without excluding others? Some critics have looked to Godbole's Hinduism, but as the novel points out, Hinduism itself is divided into different sects and castes. 83

84  Perhaps the novel tries to embrace the muddle through the form of art, and literature specifically. The novel itself could be an experiment in coming up with a form that includes everybody without being a muddle. It may not be successful – see "Gender" and "Race" for some of its limitations – but at least it tried. And as Mrs. Moore puts it, some "kinds of failure" may be preferable to others (1.5.99). 84

85 Thinking teasers  The term "muddle" recurs throughout the novel. What are some of the different senses of the term? What does it reveal about the characters' attitudes? What about the novel's general attitude toward life? Consider Adela and Mrs. Moore's experiences in the caves. What does the "echo" or "ou-boum" of the cave do to them? How does it alter the way they look at the world, the way they behave? How does it affect their experience for the rest of the novel? 85

86  How do different characters cope with the "muddle" of existence? Some characters you could look at include Fielding, Adela, Aziz, Mrs. Moore, and Ronny Heaslop. 86

87  While A Passage to India emphasizes the fundamental meaninglessness or "muddle" of life, it also shows how even in its meaninglessness, or because of it, life can be marvelous and extraordinary. Adela's confusion about her attack in the caves is engendered by the profound emotional and intellectual upheaval she experienced in the echo of the caves. 87

88 Lecture Review 27  Discussion on Chapters  Themes, questions and suggestions  Power, Justice and Judgment, Gender  Friendship, Religion, Life, Consciousness  Existence, Race, Contrasting Regions 88


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