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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!