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Adela arrives in India with Mrs. Moore, and, fittingly,
her character develops in parallel to Mrs. Moore’s. Adela, like
the elder Englishwoman, is an individualist and an educated free
thinker. These tendencies lead her, just as they lead Mrs. Moore,
to question the standard behaviors of the English toward the Indians.
Adela’s tendency to question standard practices with frankness makes
her resistant to being labeled—and therefore resistant to marrying Ronny
and being labeled a typical colonial English wife. Both Mrs. Moore
and Adela hope to see the “real India” rather than an arranged tourist
version. However, whereas Mrs. Moore’s desire is bolstered by a
genuine interest in and affection for Indians, Adela appears to
want to see the “real India” simply on intellectual grounds. She
puts her mind to the task, but not her heart—and therefore never
connects with Indians.
Adela’s experience at the Marabar Caves causes her to
undergo a crisis of rationalism against spiritualism. While Adela’s
character changes greatly in the several days after her alleged
assault, her testimony at the trial represents a return of the old
Adela, with the sole difference that she is plagued by doubt in
a way she was not originally. Adela begins to sense that her assault,
and the echo that haunts her afterward, are representative of something
outside the scope of her normal rational comprehension. She is pained
by her inability to articulate her experience. She finds she has
no purpose in—nor love for—India, and suddenly fears that she is
unable to love anyone. Adela is filled with the realization of the
damage she has done to Aziz and others, yet she feels paralyzed,
unable to remedy the wrongs she has done. Nonetheless, Adela selflessly
endures her difficult fate after the trial—a course of action that
wins her a friend in Fielding, who sees her as a brave woman rather
than a traitor to her race.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Passage to India!