,E.M. Forster is perhaps best known by his phrase .'only connect." He believed that most human
problems emerged from the inability of people to connect with themselves, with others, with their environment. As you read A Passage to India, bear this quote in mind and be alert to clues in the text that reveal disconnectedness at many levels.
For each set of pages, read the discussion questions but focus your journal response on how the text illustrates one or more aspects of the lack of connectedness between
. the British and the Indians
. the Hindus and the Muslims
. the men and women
. the characters and their physical environment
. the characters and their inner selves (may be spiritual, emotional, psychological)
E.M. Forster A Passage to India Journal Entries
Chapter one is very important in terms of providing the reader with key elements in the setting which will have later relevance to events in the plot. What impression does Forster seem to want the reader to gain of each of the foIIowing: the Marabar Caves, the Indian section of Chandrapore, the civil station where the English colonial families ]jve, the Indian landscape.
What do the English and the Indians seem to think of each other judging from the comments of the Indians and the behavior of the English in this chapter? Why is the relationship between Mrs. Moore and Dr. Aziz so unusual?
What is Adela like? What do the other English colonials think of her? Mrs. Moore's son Ronny's interpretation of the meeting at the mosque illustrates the English attitude towards the Indians and foreshadows events later in the novel. Describe Ronny's attitude towards Aziz and explain why Mrs. Moore is so horrified at his evaluation of Aziz's behavior.
What does the bridge party reveal about the two cultures? In her conversation with Ronnie later that evening, what does Mrs.. Moore seem to think about the behavior and attitude of the English in India?
Chapter 7 is a turning point in the novel. How do the English and the Indians relate together at Mr. Fielding's house? How do Aziz and Fielding relate? What do you make of the collar stud exchange? Why does Aziz invite the ladies to visit the Marabar caves? What is the relationship between the Hindu, Professor Godbole and the Muslim Dr. Aziz? Why do you think Adela announces that she will not live in India? What happens to the mood of the party when Ronnie shows up?
Ch.8 How does the polo game illustrate the arbitrary nature of cultural prejudice?
In Dr. Aziz's sick room, the Muslims, Hindus and English pass through. How does Forster convey their separation from one another?
How does this chapter remind you of the importance of setting in this novel?
What do Fielding and Aziz think of each other, of relationships, of women
E.M. Forster A Passage to India
In this chapter, Forster describes what happens if someone enters a cave and strikes a match, whose flame reflects, giving the appearance of two flames flickering off the colors and textures of the granite surface. What is the developing mood he is setting up in language such as this:
Fists and fingers thrust above the advancing soil- here at last is their skin, fimer than any covering acquired by the animals, smoother than windless water, more voluptuous than love. The radiance increases, the flames touch one another, kiss, expire. The cave is dark again, like all the caves. (125)
Comment on the importance of this trip to Dr. Aziz and the challenge and the concerns for him when Fielding and Godbole miss the train.
One of the major themes in the novel is the difficulty human beings have in
making sense of life. Things are often not what they seem in our understanding of the world around us, in our relationship with others, and even in our understanding of ourselves. This is a pivotal chapter in the novel in terms of this theme. Select some quotes and incidents in this chapter that illustrate this theme. Also, assess Mrs. Moore's experience in the Marabar Caves and her reaction to this experience in the light of this theme.
Ch. 15 - 16
How does the conversation between Adela and Dr. Aziz reveal the difficulties of connection between them. In Chapter 17, Dr. Aziz will be arrested for sexual1y molesting Adela in one of the caves. Is there any evidence in these chapters that something occurred?
How does Forster ironically assess the reaction of the English administration and police to the charge brought by Adela against Aziz?
When Fielding asks Professor Godbole whether Dr. Aziz assaulted Adela, the latter says" All perform a good action, when one is performed, and when an evil action is performed, all perform it." (177) Can you explain how this could serve as a response to this particular case and to the problem of good and evil in general.
Describe the English reaction to the case. In what way does Forster imply that they are sharing in the evil that Godbole was talking about? Is Fielding adding to what Godbole said when he thinks to himself that "the evil was propagating in every direction, it seemed to have an existence of its own, apart from anything that was done or said by individuals..."(187)
Comment on Mrs. Moore's behavior towards Adela. Why is she so unfriendly towards her? What is her opinion about the assault? She also uses the word "evil" when she says to Adel, "There are different ways of evil and I prefer mine to yours." (205) Do Godbole, Fielding and Mrs. Moore share any similarities in their understanding of the world and of this particular situation?
When Mrs. Moore is leaving India, her mood is very different from when she fIrst arrived: "As soon as she landed in India it seemed to her good, and when she saw the water flowing through the mosque tank, or the Ganges, or the moon, caught in the shawl of night with all the other starts, it seemed a beautiful goal and an easy one. To be one with the universe! So dignified and simple. But there was always some little duty to be performed first, some new card to be turned up from the diminishing pack and placed, and while she was pottering about, the Marabar struck its gong." Can you explain what has happened to her?
Read this chapter a couple of times. It is the pivotal chapter in the novel when Adele takes the witness stand at Aziz's trial. Notice how Forster structures the chapter from beginning to end, how he uses space and movement to illustrate shifting power bases. For such a climactic chapter, it is packed with seemingly disparate elements, from the crowds chanting outside, to the chair fiasco, to Adele's focus on the 'punkah walla" operating the fan, to the internal ruminations of the competing lawyers and the judge. How does Forster's style reflect both a new twentieth century stylistic perspective and the complexity of the particular experience he is trying to express in this novel?
What happens to the Ronnie and Adele, Aziz and Fielding after the trial? How do you see them disconnecting or reconnecting in different ways. Forster says of Fielding and Adele that they realize their outlook on life and India was “more or less similar." How is it similar? What has caused the breakdown of the friendship between Aziz and Fielding?
On his return to England, Fielding passes through Italy and obviously feels much more at home than in India. What does he admire about Italy and Italian art and architecture? How does this affinity for Italy reveal his fundamental dissonance with India?
Reread the last conversation between Aziz and Fielding years later, when Fielding has returned to visit with his new wife, Mrs. Moore's daughter. Why do you think the two men cannot be friends, much as they would like tobe? Is Aziz correct when he says,
"India shall be a nation! No foreigners of any sort! Hindu and Moslem and Sikh and all shall be one! Hurrah for India! Hurrah for India! Hurrah! Hurrah!... .We may hate one another, but we hate you most. If I don't make you go, Ahmed will, Karim will, if its fifty-five hundred years we shall get rid of you, yes, we shall drive every blasted Englishman into the sea, and then' - he rode against him furiously - and then,' he concluded, half-kissing him, 'you and I shall be ftiends.' (322)
Forster's novel was published in 1924.
After a lengthy and often violent campaign of political and social actjon by Indian nationalists, the British relented and granted the subcontinent independence in 1947. However, despite the desires of the British and the efforts of some Indian leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi, the subcontinent was deeply split, on the basis of religion, between Hindus and Moslems. Since it seemed impossible to fashion a single state out of these two nations, two states were formed: India, which was predominantly Hindu, and Pakistan, which was predominantly Muslim.
The situation was further complicated by the concentration of Muslims in two geograpmcally distinct areas in the northeast and northwest regions of the subcontinent. As a consequence, Pakistan was composed of two parts, separated by more than 1,500 miles of rival India's territory. Many Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were forced to leave their homelands and migrate to the new state based on their own religion. The hostility and bloodshed associated with partition resulted in one million deaths. There have been periodic violent boundary conflict ever since. (Danziger, Understanding the Political World 1998)
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