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In every remark [Aziz] found a meaning, but not always the true meaning, and his life though vivid was largely a dream.
Fielding’s many worldly experiences keep him from being insensitive toward Indians like the rest of the English are. The English mildly distrust Fielding, partly out of suspicion of his efforts to educate Indians as individuals. Fielding also makes offhand comments that distress the English, such as his remark that “whites” are actually “pinko-grey.” Still, Fielding manages to remain friendly with the men at the English club while also socializing with Indians.
Aziz arrives at Fielding’s for tea as Fielding is dressing. Though the two men have never met, they treat each other informally, which delights Aziz. Fielding breaks the collar stud for his shirt, but Aziz quickly removes his own and gives it to Fielding. The relations between the two men sour only briefly when Aziz misinterprets Fielding’s dismissive comment about a new school of painting to be dismissive of Aziz himself.
Aziz is disappointed when Mrs. Moore and Adela arrive, as their presence upsets the intimacy of his conversation with Fielding. The party continues to be informal, though, even with the women present. Aziz feels comfortable addressing the women as he would address men, as Mrs. Moore is so elderly and Adela so plain looking.
The ladies are disappointed and confused because the Bhattacharyas never sent their carriage this morning as promised. Adela pronounces it a “mystery,” but Mrs. Moore disagrees—mysteries she likes, but this is a “muddle.” Fielding pronounces all India a muddle. Aziz denounces the rudeness of the Hindu Bhattacharyas and invites the women to his own house. To Aziz’s horror, Adela takes his invitation literally and asks for his address. Aziz is ashamed of his shabby residence and distracts Adela with commentary on Indian architecture. Fielding knows that Aziz has some historical facts wrong, but Fielding does not correct Aziz as other Englishmen would have. At the moment Fielding recognizes “truth of mood” over truth of fact.
The last of Fielding’s guests, the Hindu professor Godbole, arrives. Aziz asks Adela if she plans to settle in India, to which Adela spontaneously responds that she cannot. Adela then realizes that, in making this admission, she has essentially told strangers that she will not marry Ronny before she has even told Ronny so herself. Adela’s words fluster Mrs. Moore. Fielding then takes Mrs. Moore on a tour of the college grounds.
Adela again mentions the prospect of visiting Aziz’s house, but Aziz invites her to the Marabar Caves instead. Aziz attempts to describe the caves, but it becomes clear that Aziz has never seen them. Godbole has been to the caves, but he does not adequately describe why they are extraordinary; in fact, Aziz senses that Godbole is holding back information. Suddenly, Ronny arrives to take Adela and his mother to a polo match at the club. Ronny ignores the Indians. Aziz becomes excitable and overly intimate in reaction to Ronny’s rude interruption. Fielding reappears, and Ronny privately scolds him for leaving Adela alone with Indians.
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