Summary: Chapter 26

Fielding reluctantly converses with Adela. She wants to discuss her behavior, but he is unwilling until she mentions that she has been ill. She says she has been ill with an echo since the day of the trip to the Marabar Caves, or perhaps the day she heard Godbole’s song. Fielding admits that he always suspected she was ill, or perhaps hallucinatory. Adela cannot quite describe the vision she had in court. Nonetheless, Fielding appreciates Adela’s meticulous honesty, and he apologizes for his rudeness to Ronny.

Adela asks Fielding what Aziz thinks of her. Fielding uncomfortably thinks about Aziz’s contempt for Adela’s ugliness. They discuss the possibility that the guide, or someone else, attacked Adela. Hamidullah arrives and is unhappy to see Fielding and Adela together. Hamidullah expresses severe disapproval of Adela because of the destruction she has carelessly brought upon Aziz. Hamidullah invites Fielding to the Nawab Bahadur’s house for the victory celebration. Adela prepares to depart, but Fielding invites her to remain at the college while he stays with Aziz’s friends. Hamidullah, however, is eager to be rid of Adela, for her emotionless demeanor repels him.

While the two men discuss what to do with Adela, Hamidullah is relieved to notice Ronny pull up. Fielding meets Ronny outside and learns that Mrs. Moore has died on the voyage back to England and has been buried at sea. Fielding returns and sends Adela out. He and Hamidullah agree not to tell Aziz about Mrs. Moore until the next day. Adela returns, distraught at Mrs. Moore’s death, and asks to remain at the college. At Fielding’s request, Adela brings Ronny inside.

Hamidullah is unfriendly to Ronny. Fielding and Ronny settle the details of Adela’s stay at the College, and then Fielding and Hamidullah leave for the Nawab Bahadur’s celebration. On the way, Fielding overhears Hamidullah saying that Adela should be fined twenty thousand rupees. Fielding is distressed that Adela should lose her money and probably her fiancé as well.

Summary: Chapter 27

“Is emotion a sack of potatoes, so much the pound, to be measured out? Am I a machine?”

See Important Quotations Explained

Late that night, the celebrants at the victory party are bedded down on the Nawab Bahadur’s roof. Fielding and Aziz have a long talk. Aziz anticipates that Fielding will urge him not to make Adela pay any reparations. But Aziz no longer wants the English to admire him for his chivalry. Fielding explains that he himself changed his mind and now believes that Adela acted bravely and will suffer enough as it is. Aziz dismisses Adela because of her lack of beauty. Fielding becomes angry with Aziz’s sexual snobbery.

Finally, Aziz says he will consult Mrs. Moore and do what she suggests. Fielding points out that Aziz’s emotions are disproportionate: it was Adela who saved him, while Mrs. Moore went away—yet Aziz still loves Mrs. Moore and not Adela. Aziz rejects what he sees as Fielding’s materialism, which measures love pound-by-pound. Fielding explains to Aziz that Mrs. Moore has died, but Hamidullah, overhearing their conversation, tells Aziz that Fielding is joking. Aziz takes it as a joke.

Summary: Chapter 28

In Chandrapore, a legend arises that Ronny killed his mother for attempting to save Aziz’s life. Two different tombs are reported to contain Mrs. Moore’s body, and townspeople leave offerings at both tombs.

The English do not respond to the rumors. Ronny knows that he was inconsiderate to his mother at the end, but he blames her for the trouble she continues to make with the legend of her death. Ronny hopes that troublesome Adela will leave India, too. He has not yet broken off their engagement, hoping that she will realize the marriage would ruin his career, and therefore back out politely.

Summary: Chapter 29

Perhaps life is a mystery, not a muddle. . . . Perhaps the hundred Indias which fuss and squabble so tiresomely are one, and the universe they mirror is one.

See Important Quotations Explained

The lieutenant-governor arrives in Chandrapore to survey the aftermath of the Marabar case. He congratulates Fielding for his upstanding behavior before and during the trial. Adela continues to stay at the college, and she and Fielding talk more frequently. He helps her draft an apology to Aziz. The apology seems unsatisfactory: though Adela is just, she does not truly love India and Indians.

Aziz and Fielding begin to quarrel about future plans and about Adela’s reparation payment. Fielding resorts to a mention of Mrs. Moore, and finally Aziz gives in and agrees to ask Adela only to repay his legal costs. As Aziz has predicted, his generosity wins him no prestige among the English, who will believe forever that he committed the crime.

Ronny visits Adela at the college and breaks off their engagement. Adela and Fielding talk afterward. Adela sadly repents for all the trouble she has caused everyone. She admits, though, that she and Ronny should not have thought about marriage in the first place. Like old friends, Fielding and Adela talk about the difficulties of love. Fielding questions Adela about the incident in the cave one final time. Indifferently, she accepts that it was the guide who assaulted her. She explains that only Mrs. Moore knew for sure, perhaps by telepathy. Fielding and Adela continue to chat, but their practicality and friendliness are slightly plagued by a sense of something indefinable and infinite in the universe.

Adela takes a ship home to England. She decides on the way to look up Mrs. Moore’s two other children, Ralph and Stella, when she arrives.

Analysis: Chapters 26–29

In Fielding and Adela’s conversations after the trial, Forster focuses not on conjecture about what might have happened to Adela in the cave, but rather on the uneasiness of two unspiritual people with a mysterious and otherworldly event. Fielding and Adela’s discussions of Marabar and Adela’s testimony at the trial raise ideas of ghosts and visions with which both are uncomfortable. The two begin to sense that “life is a mystery, not a muddle,” in Forster’s words. To fend off these uncomfortable ideas, the two find solace in scientific words like “hallucination,” or in the possibility that another culprit, such as Aziz’s guide, was responsible for a real, physical attack. Forster presents the conversations between Fielding and Adela as fluctuations between a spiritual recognition of something infinite and eternal and a comforting return to the familiarity of traditional English rationalism.

The announcement of Mrs. Moore’s death further troubles this sense of English rationalism, particularly for Adela. Adela is struck by the realization that Mrs. Moore died at just about the time when the Indians in the courtroom crowd began chanting her name. This simultaneity further associates Mrs. Moore with mystical power and suggests that her spirit is present in the courtroom—a sense that Aziz confirms. Additionally, the fact that Mrs. Moore is buried at sea further implies that she is not of either world, India or England, but permanently occupies a liminal space between them. Though Forster presents the cult of Mrs. Moore that emerges in Chandrapore as silly and superstitious, he nevertheless implies that the woman’s spirit represents significant mystical power.

Though Adela bravely resists the encouragement of the English contingent when she pronounces Aziz innocent, Aziz, Hamidullah, and many other Indians continue to hold a grudge against her—a grudge that reinforces a dichotomy between Indian values and English values. The Indians hold a grudge not because of Adela’s responsibility for Aziz’s downfall, but because her rescue of Aziz is so emotionless. The Indians sense no kindness or love behind Adela’s action, so they suspect it is an insincere trick. Again, Forster sets up a dichotomy between the English focus on literal honesty and the Indian focus on the emotions lying behind actions or words. The Indians’ resistance to Adela mirrors their resistance to the British Empire as a whole, which similarly administers justice without sincere compassion or kindness.

Though Forster’s critique of the British Empire has hitherto been the same critique the Indians themselves make—that the Empire lacks imaginative compassion—his critique begins to shift after Adela’s trial. Fielding, who generally serves as the mouthpiece for Forster in the novel, begins to feel wary of the Indian attention to imaginative compassion over all else. Fielding believes that Aziz’s preoccupation with kindness blinds him to the fact that Adela has taken more action on his behalf than Mrs. Moore ever did. Aziz resents the implication that his emotions should be perfectly measured, as he feels that this view does not account for his nonliteral, nonlinguistic idea of love. Fielding, however, increasingly suspects that imagination betrays those who depend on it to the exclusion of all else. If Forster has shown in Part 1 of A Passage to India that most English suffer from a lack of imagination and compassion, he shows toward the end of Part 2 that too much imagination and compassion has the potential to lead the Indians astray.

Perhaps the clearest example of imagination leading Indians astray in these chapters is the initial rift between Fielding and Aziz. When Fielding accompanies Adela back to the college directly after the trial, Aziz feels that Fielding has abandoned him. We know, however, that Fielding has perfectly good reason to fear for Adela’s safety, and that he has no intention whatsoever of neglecting Aziz. Aziz gets carried away in his somewhat self-pitying sense of Fielding’s betrayal, and the relationship between the two men begins to break apart.

Fielding, for his part, becomes increasingly disillusioned with his Indian friends in general. He feels that Aziz, Hamidullah, and others are unnecessarily cruel in seeking incredible sums of monetary compensation from Adela. Fielding is also surprised by Hamidullah’s nastiness to both Adela and Ronny. Indeed, in these chapters, Forster’s satire on English behavior gives way somewhat to a sense of disappointment with Indian behavior. The Indians, in reaction to their victory at the trial, become aggressive, start to complain of new, nonexistent mistreatments, and even resort to petty lawlessness. The English virtually vanish from the novel, as Forster’s critique—though never satiric—turns toward the Indians instead.