A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 12 ((Caves)) | Summary



The narrator once again "zooms out" from a close inspection of human affairs to describe the Marabar Hills, tracing their origins in Hindu mythology and geology. Emerging suddenly and precipitously from the plain of the Ganges, they are said to be "older than anything in the world ... older than all spirit."

The Marabar Caves are simply tunnels leading to dark, unadorned, circular chambers with polished walls; they are all alike and very hard to describe. The ones people can visit have tunnels cut into them, but there are rumored to be many more hollow chambers as yet untouched by man, including the hollow boulder known as the Kawa Dol.


Again, in this chapter, the human world is meant to seem transient and insignificant. Forster's narration here touches on events preceding history, even preceding mythology. The caves, though visited by humans, seem to be beyond their understanding, another example of the inscrutability of nature in India.

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