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Economic cosequences Only briefly hinted Eg.: Fielding mentions to Godbole and Adela that mangoes can now be purchased in England: “They ship them in ice-cold rooms. You can make India in England apparently, just as you can make England in India.” (Chap 7) Claim to be in India for the good of the Indians but economically exploit them Increase wealth– trade system- beneficial entirely to one party
Religious Rivalry.......Muslims and Hindus have always been—and continue to be—antagonists in India. In A Passage to India, the relationship between Dr. Aziz, a Muslim, and Dr. Panna Lal, a Hindu underscores the tension between Muslims and Hindus. Aziz and Lal despise each other, and Lal agrees to testify against Aziz at the trial.Throughout the novel, Aziz—though deeply insulted by British prejudice against Indians—frequently deprecates Hindus with unfounded generalizations in the same way that the British find fault with the native populace.
Of the Bhattacharya family, he says, "Slack Hindus—they have no idea of society; I know them very well because of a doctor [Panna Lal] at the hospital. Such a slack, unpunctual fellow!" Aziz—and no doubt many other Indians—also object to Christian Converting, as a passage in Chapter 9 indicates.Aziz is lying sick in bed when he could hear church bells as he drowsed, both from the civil station and from the missionaries out beyond the slaughter house—different bells and rung with different intent, for one set was calling firmly to Anglo-India [the British], and the other feebly to mankind.
He did not object to the first set; the other he ignored, knowing their inefficiency. Old Mr. Gaylord and Young Mr. Sorley [Christian missionaries] made converts during a famine, because they distributed food; but when times improved they were naturally left alone again, and though surprised and aggrieved each time this happened, they never learnt wisdom.
Hope.......The final section of the novel—which takes place in the Hindu city of Mau, to which Aziz has relocated— offers hope for a better future. First, Muslim Aziz receives help from Hindu Godbole.Muslims and Hindus are rivals, but Aziz and Godbole demonstrate that traditional antagonists can get along when they treat each other with respect and live together as equals.
Second, Aziz reconciles with Cyril Fielding and befriends Mrs. Moores son, Ralph. However, Aziz cautions Fielding that they will never have a lasting friendship until the English leave India.
Culture ClashNegative portrayal: Clash between Christian and Hindu beliefs Mrs Moore’s conditioned values and the idea of oneness – even good and evilPositive portrayal: Part 3 Hindu festival in Mau Enacts Lord Krishna’s birth Joy & affirmation Mystery of Indian spirituality
Fielding’s response - culture clash Does not believe in God No interest in contrast between Eastern- Western spirituality But- chap 23- feels far more at home with Western architecture – he encounters in Venice- than Indian temples
God & ReligionForster – not a religious man/ writer But Religion – major preoccupation India: meeting point of 3 world’s historic religions (Islam, Christianity, Hinduism). Corresponds with 3 parts of the book (Mosque, Cave, Temple)
For e.g.: Aziz – loves cultural & social aspects of the Islamic heritage Less concerned with its theology & religious practice Aware that Moslems – minority– feels a special kinship with other Moslems Anglo- Indians – nominal reps of Christianity Ronny – admits– for him Christianity is fine in its place -- But- not let it interfere with civil duty Mrs Moore– Christian in her outlook – experience a crisis of faith in the caves
Hinduism: main religion of India Godbole- central Hindu figure Most religious character Hinduism (to him) : “completeness, not reconstruction.” central principal: total acceptance of things as they are Forster– suggests- most positive spiritual approach to life Most representative of the true spirit of India
Symbols: • The Marabar Caves • The Green Bird • The Wasp Motifs: • The Echo • Eastern and Western Architecture • Godbole’s Song
The Caves .......E. M. Forster modeled the fictional caves in A Passage to India on actual caves about twelve miles from the city of Gaya in the state of Bihar.However, the real caves are known as the Barabar Caves, not the Marabar Caves (Forsters fictional name for them).
A Buddhist ruler of the second century BC, tolerant of other religions, ordered workers to hew the caves from rock faces as holy places for monks of the Ajivika religion.There are four Barabar caves.Their smooth interior walls sustain prolonged echoes.
The Cave Echo What It Means to Mrs. Moore and How It Affects AdelaIn the first of the Marabar Caves, all sounds—sneezes, whistles, shouts—return the same echo: boum, or a variation of it such as ou-boum.This echo appears to mock the Hindu concept that the entire universe—and everything in it—consists of a single essence, Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmin or Brahma).
Even the human soul, called atma by Hindus, is part of this essence.Thus, a whistle is a sneeze and a sneeze is a soul, since all are Brahman—that is, all are the same essence.
The echo unnerves Mrs. Moore because she vaguely understands that it represents a force that reduces everything to sameness—a monotonous, empty sameness.Even biblical words that she had lived by become part of the Brahman and thus lose their meaning, as reported by the narrator in the last paragraph of Chapter 14.Mrs. Moore is attempting to write a letter to her children, Stella and Ralph, when ruminating over her experience in the cave.
“[S]uddenly, at the edge of her mind, Religion appeared, poor little talkative Christianity, and she knew that all its divine words from “Let there be Light” to “It is finished” only amounted to boum.Then she was terrified over an area larger than usual; the universe, never comprehensible to her intellect, offered no repose to her soul . . ..”.......Thereafter, her experience in the cave haunts her, and she becomes irritable and depressed.
Like the biblical words, her life and everything she believes in lose their meaning.India had fascinated her when she arrived in the country; now it repels her.Its intriguing mystery has turned into the “muddle” spoken of by other Britons.
No, she does not curse the country and its people as Major Callendar and Mrs. Turton do.Nor does she side with Adela against Aziz in the days leading up to the trial. But she can no longer tolerate India; it is too much for her.
She decides to leave. She does not even stay to testify for Aziz“Why should I be in the witness box?” she later says to her son Ronny. “I have nothing to do with your ludicrous law courts.” The narrator then reports Heaslops thoughts: “She was by no means the dear old lady outsiders supposed, and India had brought her out in the open.”
.......Elderly and in declining health, oppressed by the Asian heat, she dies aboard the ship and becomes part of the vast emptiness of the Indian Ocean. .......Like Mrs. Moore, Adela Quested is fascinated with India when she arrives in the country. But she worries that its unbridled diversity will turn her into just another cynical, disenchanted Anglo- Indian if she marries Ronny Heaslop and becomes a resident of India.
However, she sees a glimmer of hope in Indian history, in particular in the person of the Mogul emperor Akbar (1542- 1605), who reigned from 1556 until his death. To unify the populace, he instituted reforms that centralized government functions. And, though a Muslim, he promoted dialogue between people of all religions— Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, and so on—and even attempted to establish a new religion that combined elements of other religions.
.......When discussing Akbar with Aziz (Chapter 14), Adela says, “[W]asnt Akbars new religion very fine? It was to embrace the whole of India.” Aziz, acknowledging that Akbar was a great ruler, responds that Akbars idea of a single Indian religion was wrong.
“Nothing embraces the whole of India, nothing, nothing, and that was Akbars mistake.” Adela then says, “I hope youre not right.There will have to be something universal in this country—I dont say religion, for Im not religious, but something, or how else are barriers to be broken down.”
She ends up saying that without a unifying force she would find it difficult as an Anglo-Indian to “avoid becoming like them [Mrs Turton and Mrs. Callendar].”.......Later, when she enters one of the upper caves alone, she scratches a wall and hears the echo.
It is at this moment, she later reports, that Aziz attacks her.She fights back with her field glasses, escapes the cave, races through a field of cactuses that tear her skin and embed needles in it, and returns with Miss Derek to Chandrapore.
She is disoriented, in a state of shock. After her recovery, she repeatedly hears the echo. But unlike Mrs. Moore, she has no clue as to its meaning.When she asks the old woman what it means, Mrs. Moore replies, “If you dont know, you dont know; I cant tell you.”
.......Unable to understand the sound, she becomes like the other English men and women who cannot understand Indians.She even begins to question her own perceptiveness and begins to realize that she has falsely accused Aziz.
But Ronny and the others, who are using her as an instrument to punish the Indians, persuade her that she was right about Aziz.At the trial, however, she musters the courage to admit she was wrong and drops the charges. She too then leaves India. .......The departure of Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore foreshadows the historical British exit from India in 1947, which Forster may have seen as inevitable.
hysterics are caused by the echo’s truth revealing function with regard to the narrative’s stance towards national and religious difference: The echo in a Marabar cave is not like these, it is entirely devoid of distinction.
Whatever is said, the same monotonous noise replies, and quivers up and down the walls until it is absorbed into the roof. “Boum” is the sound as far as the human alphabet can express it, or “bou-oum.” or “ou-boum,”–utterly dull. (147)
“Dullness” thus becomes a linguistic, existential and national character–and the blending of these three registers is in itself dull. Can think of the echo as a too perfect mimesis, subverting the claims for English superiority that are insisted on throughout. Note that it is precisely the threat of “miscegenation” that gets the English folks all up in arms about Aziz–another potential “dullness.” When Fielding returns years later to see Aziz, they get into a minor boat crash: “That was the climax, as far as India admits of one” (315).
The Echo as a Hindu SoundUndoubtedly, the most memorable figure of speech in A Passage to India is onomatopoeia: the boum echo in the caves. It calls to mind the om sound chanted by Hindus and Buddhists. Of this sound, Encyclopaedia Britannica says,
The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds a-u-m (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u coalesce to become o), which represent several important triads: the three worlds of earth, atmosphere, and heaven; the three major Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; and the three sacred Vedic scriptures, Rg, Yajur, and Sama. Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe. It is uttered at the beginning and end of Hindu prayers, chants, and meditation and is freely used in Buddhist and Jaina ritual also.