Passage to India (Forster)

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1. What is Cyril Fielding's relationship with Indians at the beginning of the novel? How do his views of them change during and after the trial?

2. Describe Dr. Aziz—what kind of person is he? Is his fondness for Mrs. Moore, Adela Quested, Fielding and other British well placed? Is his disillusionment at the end justified? Or were his affections naive and overly trusting to begin with—yes...no?

3. Fielding and Dr. Aziz become friends. On what is their friendship based—what draws the two men together? The friendship is strained in the aftermath of the trial, why? Is Aziz justified in his anger toward Fielding?

4. What do you think of Adela Quested? Why does she, along with Mrs. Moore, reject the standard British attitudes toward the Indians? What does that say about her character? Is her desire to experience the real India genuine...or does she wish merely to "taste" or skim the surface of India? Do your feelings toward Adela change during the book?

5. Adela breaks off her engagement to Ronny Heaslop. Why? What do you think of Ronny? Why does Adela change her mind after the car accident?

6. What do you think happens in the Mirabar Caves? As an author, why might Forster have purposely left the incident open-ended, never providing an answer—the truth—to what took place?

7. Talk about the caves' symbolic imagery. As an imaginative writer, why would Forster have chosen to set the incident in caves rather than than some other remote spot? What do caves suggest symbolically?

8. What about Mrs. Moore? Is her interest in India genuine? Why does she, along with Adela, refuse to support the typical British attitude toward the Indians? Why doesn't she support Adela in the aftermath of the Marabar Cave incident?

9. Why does Adela recant during the trial?

10. Why does Fielding come to respect Adela? Do you?

11. A Passage explores differences in religious beliefs, primarily Christianity and Hindu. How are those faiths expressed in the novel. Think for instance of Mrs. Moore's respect for the wasp in her bedroom? What about Professor Godbole's philosophy—what is meant by the "unity of all things"? How might that ideal offer redemption for Indians and British? How does the novel's use of imagery or descriptive prose express the unity concept?

12. The echo of the cave haunts both Mrs. Moore and Adela: no matter what one calls out, the returning echo is always "boum." The echo seems to suggest what can happen when all of life merges into one—things become indistinguishable from one another, individualism disappears. What is the echo's effect on Mrs. Moore? Does Professor Godbole (or Forster, for that matter) embrace absolutely the concept of total and complete unity? Or do they hold some reservations about the concept?

13. How do the British characters feel about—how do they treat—the Indians? How do the Indians feel about—how do they respond to—the British colonists? Locate specific passages that exemplify both sides.

14. How does Forster portray his countrymen and their values in A Passage? The author was criticized by the British for what they perceived as his biased treatment of them in the novel. Is their criticism justified, or not? Are his portrayals black and white of both British and Indians? Or does he give equal weight to each? Have you read other accounts of the British Raj (rule)? If so, how does Forster's treatment compare?

15. One of the novel's central concerns is the possibility or impossibility of friendship between Indians and the British. On which side of the issue do the various characters—Fielding, Aziz, primarily, but others as well—fall? Whose positions change by the novel's end...and why?

(Questions by LtiLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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