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A Passage to India

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  A Passage to India

author  E.M. Forster

type of work  Novel

genre  Modernist novel; psychological novel

language  English

time and place written  1912–1924; India, England

date of first publication  1924

publisher Edward Arnold

narrator  Forster uses an unnamed third-person narrator

point of view  The third-person narrator is omniscient, attuned both to the physical world and the inner states of the characters

tone  Forster’s tone is often poetic and sometimes ironic or philosophical

tense  Immediate past

setting (time)  1910s or 1920s

setting (place)  India, specifically the cities of Chandrapore and Mau

protagonist  Dr. Aziz

major conflict  Adela Quested accuses Dr. Aziz of attempting to sexually assault her in one of the Marabar Caves. Aziz suspects Fielding has plotted against him with the English.

rising action  Adela Quested and Mrs. Moore’s arrival in India; the women’s befriending of Aziz; Adela’s reluctant engagement to Ronny Heaslop; Ronny and the other Englishmen’s disapproval of the women’s interaction with Indians; Aziz’s organization of an outing to the Marabar Caves for his English friends; Adela’s and Mrs. Moore’s harrowing experiences in the caves; Adela’s public insinuation that Aziz assaulted her in the caves; the inflammation of racial tensions between the Indians and English in Chandrapore

climax  Aziz’s trial; Adela’s final admission that she is mistaken in her accusations and that Aziz is innocent; the courtroom’s eruption; Aziz’s release; the English community’s rejection of Adela

falling action  Fielding’s conversations with Adela; Fielding and Aziz’s bickering over Aziz’s desire for reparations from Adela; Aziz’s assumption that Fielding has betrayed him and will marry Adela; Aziz’s increasingly anti-British sentiment; Fielding’s visit to Aziz with his new wife, Stella; Aziz’s befriending of Ralph and forgiveness of Fielding

themes  The difficulty of English-Indian friendship; the unity of all living things; the “muddle” of India; the negligence of British colonial government

motifs  The echo; Eastern and Western architecture; Godbole’s song

symbols  The Marabar Caves; the green bird; the wasp

foreshadowing  Adela’s concern about breaking down during the trial; Fielding’s interest in Hinduism at the end of Part II