Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews October 1, 2023
September 24, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
*See discount terms and conditions.
One consequence of Aziz’s trial is improved relations
between Hindus and Muslims in Chandrapore. Mr. Das visits Aziz one
day at the hospital and asks Aziz to write a poem for his magazine.
The magazine readership is mostly Hindu, but Das hopes to make it
appeal to the general Indian and believes that Aziz’s poem might
help. Aziz agrees and goes home to write. All his attempts at poetry
are too extreme, though—they veer toward too-sad pathos or too-harsh satire.
Aziz tries to envision a successful poem for Das, and this speculation
leads him to visions of a successful India. Aziz vows to be friendly
to Hindus and to hate the British. His character becomes hardened.
Aziz meets with Hamidullah one day and explains his plan
to take a job in a Hindu state. Hamidullah protests that such a
job will not pay enough and scolds Aziz again for not making Adela
pay reparations. Then Hamidullah passes on a rumor he has heard
that Fielding was having an affair with Adela during her stay at the college.
Aziz becomes explosive, yelling that everyone has betrayed him.
When Aziz calms down, he and Hamidullah prepare to visit
the women of Hamidullah’s household in purdah. Hamidullah mentions
that the women seemed to be ready to give up purdah at the time
of Aziz’s trial, but that they have not yet done so. Hamidullah suggests
that Aziz take a realistic view of the Indian lady as a subject for
Aziz muses on the rumor of Adela and Fielding for several
days, eventually believing it to be fact. When Fielding returns
from a conference, Aziz picks him up and tries to address the rumor
indirectly, mentioning that McBryde and Miss Derek were caught having
an affair. Fielding is uninterested in this gossip, however. Finally,
Aziz overtly mentions the rumor about Adela and Fielding, expressing fear
that the affair will hurt Fielding’s reputation. Aziz clearly is
fishing for a straightforward denial, but Fielding does not provide
one. Instead, Fielding chides Aziz for worrying too much about reputation
and propriety. Aziz finally takes it for granted that Fielding and Adela
were having an affair, and he states this directly. Fielding, startled,
blows up at Aziz. Aziz is immediately pained at his own mistake
and Fielding’s harsh words. Aziz agrees, reluctantly, to have dinner
with Fielding that night.
Fielding runs into Turton at the post office. Turton demands Fielding’s
presence at the Englishmen’s club at six that evening. Fielding
stops by the club briefly to find that many new officials have replaced
the old ones, but the tenor feels the same. Fielding likens this
repetitive bigotry to an evil echo.
At dinner, Fielding tells Aziz that he is traveling to
England briefly on official business. Aziz changes the subject to
poetry. Fielding expresses hope that Aziz will be a religious poet,
because though Fielding is an atheist, he thinks there is something
important in religion that has not yet been celebrated—perhaps something
in Hinduism. Aziz asks if Fielding will visit Adela in England.
Fielding indifferently says that he probably will. At this, Aziz
rises to leave. Fielding asks forgiveness for his harshness that
morning, but Aziz rides away feeling depressed. He suspects that
Fielding is going to England to marry Adela for her money. Aziz
decides to travel with his children tomorrow, so that Fielding will
be gone for England by the time he returns.
Fielding’s ship journeys up to the Mediterranean and then
docks at Venice. With a feeling of disloyalty, Fielding rediscovers
his appreciation for form in architecture. Unlike the random temples
and lumpy hills of India, the Venetian buildings appear in harmony
with the earth. Fielding feels divided from his Indian friends because
of their inability to appreciate form that has “escaped muddle.”
On arriving in springtime England, Fielding feels a romantic sense reawakening
A Passage to India might have ended after
Aziz’s trial, but it continues for many more chapters, as Forster
clears the ground for the new concerns of the novel. Many elements
of the pre-trial community of Chandrapore break up in the aftermath
of the trial. Some of the English officials, such as Ronny Heaslop
and Major Callendar, are assigned to new posts in distant cities.
Ronny and Adela break their engagement, and Adela returns to England.
Mrs. Moore leaves for England and dies. Godbole takes a new position
in a distant state. Finally, the two main characters who remain—Aziz
and Fielding—undergo serious changes, of both setting and character.
Though Forster presents Adela as brave and well intentioned
in testifying to Aziz’s innocence, the author by no means allows
us to forget the negative consequences of her initial accusation.
Aziz’s arrest reveals to Indians the deep hatred that the majority
of English feel for them at all times. Aziz’s time in prison hardens
him generally about personal relationships and teaches him to be
cynical about the English in particular. Whereas the Aziz of the
early parts of the novel is open to friendship with anyone, regardless
of race, his openness is now prejudiced by his universal hatred
for the English. Aziz feels less and less that friendship has the
power to overcome cultural or racial differences.
The single positive effect of the trial is that the Hindu
and Muslim communities in Chandrapore begin to come together and
overcome their existing animosity. Heartened by these advances,
Aziz makes a conscious effort to turn his mind toward a vision of
a motherland. Uncharacteristically, he remains steadily focused
on the goal of an independent India. He turns his poetry away from
nostalgic invocations of Islam and toward a realistic suggestion
of what India really is and could be. In these later chapters, then,
Forster comes across as less invested in the idea that the British
Empire is the best way to rule India. Through Aziz’s musings we
get a prescient sense of a multicultural, independent India—an India
that, in reality, finally formed twenty-five years after the publication
of Forster’s novel.
These later chapters of the novel shift concern from the
broader picture of English-Indian relations to a smaller focus on
the breakup of Aziz and Fielding’s friendship. Even after the divisive
Adela leaves India, Aziz and Fielding continue to grow apart. Aziz’s
characteristic overactive imagination and distrust of evidence and
reason continue to plague him when the rumor of Adela and Fielding’s
affair reaches him. Even Fielding’s denial of the rumor does not
dispel Aziz’s suspicion, as he already feels Fielding drifting away
from him and becoming less trustworthy. Aziz’s Indian friends encourage
him in his suspicions, as they include Fielding in their backlash
against the English after the trial. Fielding, for his part, is
gradually drawn—though perhaps unwillingly—back into the English
circle, especially after the lieutenant-governor approves of Fielding’s actions
during the trial.
Sexuality continues to remain a significant and constant
barrier to the connection between Aziz and Fielding. When the two
men discuss the rumored affair with Adela, Fielding is so shocked
that Aziz believed the rumor that he calls Aziz a “little rotter”
and immediately regrets it. Forster attributes the tense misunderstanding between
the two men to the tension that arises when two people do not think
of sex in the same way. Sex has always been a point of contention
for the two men because Fielding resents Aziz’s crass attitude toward
female beauty and sexuality. In the same way that sex troubles Aziz
and Fielding, Adela’s painful thoughts about sexuality and her impending
marriage to Ronny may be what cause her to imagine an assault in
the Marabar Caves. Sexuality in A Passage to India is
never a connecting force between characters, but rather a divisive
one that sends the characters back into their shells.
In one of the only genuine and unstrained moments of their
conversation over dinner in Chapter XXXII, Aziz and Fielding each foreshadow
the events and concerns of Part III of the novel. Fielding, though
an atheist, senses something in the Hindu religion that could be
valuable, that is still “unsung.” Aziz then has a brief vision of
himself living in a “Hindu jungle Native State.” As we soon see, Part
III, which takes place two years later, features Aziz in a new position
in Mau, just such a Hindu Indian-ruled jungle state. Indeed, Part
III takes Hinduism as its backdrop, suggesting just what Fielding
has implied—that in Hinduism may lie the mysterious remedy to cultural
and individual conflict.
Fielding’s brief stop in Italy on the way to England,
especially his admiration of Venetian architecture, continues Forster’s
exploration of architecture as representative of the cultural differences between
East and West. The Western architecture of Venice shows the triumph
and beauty of logical form. Building and earth complement each other,
and proportions relate correctly. In Forster’s eyes, Western architecture
signifies everything that is positive about the logic, literalness,
and reason of the West and Western thought. Fielding is uneasy about
his appreciation of Venice because he knows that such appreciation—like
the Englishmen’s salute of the tragic Ronny in Chapter XX—implicitly
rejects India. From Fielding’s point of view, the worst, most “muddled”
qualities of India are represented in its architecture, which to
him is disproportionate, unpredictable, and formless.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Passage to India!