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Analysis of Book - A Passage to India
Analysis of Book - A Passage to India
Analysis of Book - A Passage to India

Since the novel A Passage to India by Forster appeared in 1924, it has caused a lot of critical discussions and disputes. Generally the novel aims at answering the main question – if people of English and Indian races could be friendly towards each other or not. By the end of the novel the author comes to the conclusion, that it is hardly possible at the moment – “But the horses didn't want it... the earth didn't want it... the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion... they didn't want it, they said in their hundred voices, 'No, not yet,' and the sky said, 'No, not there.' (Forster, 289). All the key events of the novel, related to the character of Aziz, his attitude towards English, his arrest, anti- English ideas and so on serve to build the answer to the main question. The author wants to investigate the issues of inter-racial friendship, if it is possible in colonies or under any other conditions or barriers. The novel is unexpectedly concentrated more on the personal and individual relations and problems, rather than on political and social as general. This is partially due to the fact, that Forster had personal interests in India as well, because being a homosexual, he had an affair with an Indian guy. This affair changed a lot in his life and first of all his relation to India and Indian people. This is evident, that the death of his friend contributed sufficiently to the imagery, tone, characterization of the novel, Forster was working at, at that moment. The main idea of the whole writing is the exploration of the possible ways of overcoming such barriers as class, nationality and gender differences, in interracial relations, which is reflected by the author through the prism of his personal experience and feelings.
The major elements of the Forster’s style, like for example the pattering or absence of the final interpretation, contribute to the significance of the writing and presenting of the main problems the author was working at. The change of the characters is unique in the novel, as they shift from being socially stereotypical to some mysterious ones. Maybe, from the first sight, Forster would seem to be an –old-fashioned writer, because of his irony use and omniscient author narration. However, under the surface image, lies the unique presentation of characters, of ideas, of perceptions and observations. Important is the fact, that personal subjectivity and perception are put on the higher level, than any general socially accepted judgment. “The modernist novel, with its tendency towards the subjective, the indeterminate, representing the flux and process of experience, was seeking to find new ways of expressing reality, and Forster's novel is one further example of this general tendency in twentieth century writing” (Arnold, 5). Thus, we see, that the author managed to combine the traditional elements with modernist approach, achieving the highest emotional appeal to the readers.
We have already mentioned, that the characters, created by Forster, are vitally important for the literary narration as well as transmitting of the main message of the author. Dr. Aziz is a very important character, as he is actually the embodiment of the “muddle” of India, as it was seen by the author. The opinions of Aziz change all the time, he is ready to fall from one extreme to another every next minute, which makes his behavior childish sometimes. Not only emotions of Aziz change so quickly, so do his talents and even professional claims, from being a physician to becoming a poet. The sense of humor helps him to express his irony about his English superiors (Arnold, 13). The character of Dr. Aziz is used by the author first of all for creating a generalized image of all Indian people, who don’t like direct expression of ideas and feelings, preferring communication through indirect speech. The attitude of Aziz to morality is rather specific, as for him using the services of prostitutes, reading somebody’s private mail are not immoral, as he knows, that he won’t be caught and as he is sure, that his initial intentions are good. The universality of Aziz as a representative of the Indian nation is reflected in his struggle with English in his country. It is difficult for him to decide, whether it is good or bad, that there is some significant progress coming from the West, at the same time, that English is able to oppress Indian people and disregard their opinions, traditions, feelings.
Generally critics don’t have any common judgment as for the presentation of Aziz in Forster’s novel, because the author felt obvious sympathy and favor towards Indian people, however he managed to present them as childish and incompetent sometimes. This is one of the evident notes of realism in the novel A Passage to India by Forster.
Another key character of the novel is certainly Fielding, which is often associated with the author himself. Fielding manages to initiate and develop friendship with native Indian people. Being a teacher, he still prefers a type of one-on-one communication to teacher- student conversations. Critics usually call this style – “Forster’s model of liberal humanism”, because the author, as well as his character are able to perceive the whole world not as layers separated by culture, traditions, languages, religion, financial state, rather as a group of people, able to built friendly and positive relations, based on mutual trust, respect, intelligence, support and so on. The character of Fielding has also two “faces”, as he, as a teacher, is supposed to spread the English mentality in India, whereas he does his best in initiating the movement of free thought, having the potential of destroying of the colonial power of English people in India (Arnold, 21). However, by the end of the novel, Fielding actually loses his likeness with the author, as he feels more and more identified with his nationality - with Englishmen.
Overall, the deeply psychological and emotional novel – A Passage to India by Forster is a rather weighty contribution to discussions of the problems of international relations. The author took as the basis the relations between English and Indian people, because this theme was the closest and the most important for him personally, however, most of his arguments and observations might be applied to other countries and nationalities all over the world. Forster’s novel will remain actual as long as people don’t learn how to live in piece, understanding and mutual tolerance, disregarding the national belonging.

Works cited:

Arnold, E. A Passage to India By E. M. Forster. London, 1999

Forster, E.M. A Passage to India; Penguin Books Ltd., New York, 1979.