A Passage to India
Part III, Chapters XXXIII–XXXV
Summary: Chapter XXXIII
Two years later, and hundreds of miles west of Chandrapore, Aziz lives and works as physician to the Rajah in the Indian‑ruled, Hindu city of Mau. Professor Godbole also works there as minister of education.
That night at the royal palace, the Hindus of Mau celebrate the midnight birth of the god Krishna. Professor Godbole leads his small choir in singing hymns. On the wall, one of many multilingual signs proclaims “God si love” rather than “God is love.” The crowd is large, but calm. Confusion abounds, but the celebrants wear expressions of joy that make them all seem alike. The singers seem to become one with the universe and to love all men. Godbole straightens his pince‑nez and thinks momentarily of Mrs. Moore, and then of a wasp he once saw sitting on a stone. Godbole tries to incorporate the stone, along with Mrs. Moore and the wasp, into his vision of the oneness of the universe, but his conscious effort fails.
As midnight approaches, Godbole and the rest of the crowd begin to dance and shout. The aging and sick Rajah, the ruler of the state, arrives to witness the birth ceremony. At midnight, the crowd heralds the birth of Krishna, the embodiment of Infinite Love. After overseeing the birth with tears of joy, the Rajah is taken away to see Aziz, who tends to him. The crowd continues to celebrate for Krishna’s benefit with practical jokes, confused frolic, and playful games.
Summary: Chapter XXXIV
On the way to his house, Aziz runs into Godbole on the street. Godbole, still in religious ecstasy, manages to tell Aziz that Fielding has arrived at the European guest house. Fielding has come to Mau on official business, to check on education.
Aziz reflects happily on Godbole, who got Aziz his position at Mau. Aziz is pleased with Mau, where rivalries exist only between Hindu Brahmans and non‑Brahmans, not Muslims or Englishmen. Though Aziz is a Muslim himself, the Hindu people of Mau accept him because he is respectful.
Aziz does not want to see Fielding. He ceased to communicate with Fielding after reading half of a letter from Fielding in England that seemed to say Fielding had married Adela Quested. Aziz finally feels like a true Indian through his hatred of the English, and he is happy with his life away from English-ruled India. His children live with him and he writes poetry. Aziz’s poetry addresses the need to abolish the purdah and to create a new motherland. His life is only mildly disrupted by the local English political agent, Colonel Maggs, who has orders to watch Aziz as a suspected criminal.
Arriving home, Aziz finds a formal note from Fielding, forwarded from Godbole, announcing the arrival of himself, his wife, and his brother‑in‑law. The note, like all notes from visiting Englishmen, asks for specific amenities and advice. Aziz tears up the note.
Summary: Chapter XXXV
In Aziz’s garden lies part of a shrine in honor of a young Muslim saint who once freed all the prisoners in the local fort before the police beheaded him. Aziz has come to associate the saint with his own time in prison, and to appreciate the shrine.
The morning after receiving Fielding’s note, Aziz walks with his children to the other section of the shrine, which lies a short distance from their house. Aziz and the children wander through the small shrine and adjoining mosque, and then admire the view from the old fort. It is the rainy season and the water tanks are full, promising a good crop to come.
A line of prisoners walks nearby. The children ask the prisoners which of them will be freed that night during the traditional Hindu procession of the Chief God. The Chief God moves through town, stops at the jail, and pardons one prisoner. The low‑caste prisoners politely discuss the matter with Aziz’s family. The prison guard asks Aziz about the Rajah’s health. Aziz says that the Rajah’s condition has been improving, though in reality the Rajah died the night before. Aziz is to keep the Rajah’s death a secret until the -festivities end.
Aziz’s children notice that Fielding and his brother‑in‑law are climbing up the ridge to the shrine. The two men enter the shrine, but a swarm of bees chases them out. Fielding’s brother‑in‑law is stung, and Aziz walks over to attend to the wound. Fielding, in an unfriendly tone of voice, asks Aziz why he never responded to any of his letters. Suddenly, heavy rain begins to fall, and they hurry down to the road to Fielding’s carriage.
Aziz helps the others into the carriage, referring to Fielding’s brother-in-law as “Mr. Quested.” Fielding is shocked, for he married Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Stella, not Adela Quested—thus the brother-in-law is Mr. Moore. Aziz is suddenly embarrassed and elated. Fielding realizes the mistake that has caused Aziz’s unfriendliness. With little sympathy, Fielding blames the mix-up on Mahmoud Ali, who knew that Fielding married Stella. Fielding explains that Mahmoud Ali even referred to her as “Heaslop’s sister” in a letter. The name Heaslop infuriates Aziz, who is already angry at the realization of his mistake.
Aziz asks Fielding not to visit him while in Mau. Aziz explains that he still feels almost as betrayed as if Fielding had actually married his enemy and taken what should have been his reparation money. On the other hand, Aziz forgives Mahmoud Ali all things because Mahmoud Ali loved him. Aziz gathers his children around him and states in Urdu that he wishes no Englishman or Englishwoman to be his friend. Aziz returns home feeling excited.
Analysis: Chapters XXXIII–XXXV
Part III, like Parts I and II, begins with an introductory chapter that sets the tone of the section. This time, Forster describes in detail the Hindu celebration of Krishna’s birth at the royal palace at Mau. The celebration is disorderly, mirroring the “muddle” of India itself throughout of the novel: multiple musicians play different songs, not enough seats are available, and a sign on the wall confusingly proclaims, “God si Love.” Yet the mystical traditions of the ceremony transform the muddle into mystery. The overlarge crowd is strangely calm and happy, as each person surrenders himself into the moment. The Hindu celebration, which provides the backdrop for all of Part III, offers a vision of individualism merged into a complete collectivity—a dynamic in which all living things are one with love and no hierarchies exist.
During the birth ceremony, Godbole thinks briefly of Mrs. Moore and a wasp. The wasp, which appears throughout A Passage to India, represents the fact that even the lowliest creatures are still incorporated into the Hindu vision of the oneness of the universe. The wasp in Chapter XXXIII recalls Mrs. Moore’s gentle appreciation of the wasp in her bedroom on the night she meets Aziz in the mosque in Chapter III. Mrs. Moore’s contemplation of the wasp suggests that she was open to the collectivity of Hinduism. Likewise, Godbole’s vision of Mrs. Moore and the wasp, suggests that the professor, as a Hindu, has sensed the Englishwoman’s sympathy with Hinduism. Indeed, the vision of the mystical Mrs. Moore, along with Godbole and the Hindu religion, serves as a backdrop for Part III of the novel.
In the two years that have passed between the end of Part II and the beginning of Part III, Aziz and Fielding’s relationship has completely fallen apart. Aziz appears mostly at fault for this quarrel, as he has mistakenly assumed that Fielding married Adela Quested, failing to take the time to check the truth of his assumption. Impetuously, Aziz has completely shut himself off from Fielding. Forster implies that Aziz’s overactive imagination and suspicion—though they once served him well—have gotten the better of him, as he has relied upon them too much. Fielding, meanwhile, appears to have become the stereotypical Englishman in India. His note from the guesthouse is somewhat demanding of Aziz; later, when Fielding and Aziz meet at the shrine, the Englishman continues to ask for comforts and privileges during his visit.
Though two years have passed since Part II, we see that Aziz is still extremely bitter about his arrest—and that it still plagues his reputation in British India. However, Forster also suggests, through a series of images of prisoners being freed, that Aziz’s bitterness soon may be partially relieved. Chapter XXXV opens with the story of a Muslim saint whose great deed was to free all the prisoners in the old fort at Mau, and who died while doing so. When Aziz takes his children to visit part of the shrine to this saint, they pass a row of prisoners, one of whom will be freed during the Hindu procession of the Chief God that evening. These optimistic images in the chapter suggest that, although Aziz still identifies himself with prisoners, he too will soon be freed of his symbolic prison—his bitterness about Adela’s accusation.
The emphasis on rebirth in Part III reinforces and deepens this sense of optimism. The Hindu celebration that provides the backdrop of the section is a celebration of the birth of the god Krishna. Furthermore, Part III takes place at the beginning of the rainy season, the time after the blistering hot season that brings extraordinary rains to nurture new crops. Aziz himself can be seen as a manifestation of rebirth, as his children are now living with him, and he seems to be focused on their education and upbringing. All of Aziz’s hopes for a new India are invested in this younger generation.
Aziz, in a moment that epitomizes his character, feels torn between several different emotions upon learning that Fielding has actually married Stella Moore, not Adela Quested. In quick succession, Aziz feels embarrassed, then elated, then angry and prideful, then excited. Aziz’s pride in himself and his behavior battle with his relief and his affection for Fielding; his anger at the name “Ronny Heaslop” battles with his love for the name “Mrs. Moore.” Typically, Aziz intends for Fielding to take his words not literally, but as a performance of the emotions behind them. Indeed, though Aziz exhorts Fielding not to visit him while in Mau, several hours later, in the next chapter, Aziz himself rides over to the guesthouse and is disappointed to find that Fielding is not in. This confrontation between literal and figurative meaning that has been at the heart of the conflicts in the novel thus far continues to play a part here in the final chapters of the novel.
by UGLYHASSNAA69, November 12, 2012
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