A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 17 ((Caves)) | Summary

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Summary

Turton is watching the arrest from behind the perforated zinc doors of the station; thrown open, the doors frame him "like a god in a shrine." Forster describes Turton's face as "white, fanatical, and rather beautiful." When Turton says Aziz "insulted" Adela in one of the caves, Fielding is disbelieving and nearly speechless. He asks who makes the charge, and Turton answers that Adela does. When Fielding says she is mad, Turton orders him to withdraw the statement; Fielding does so, but he maintains Aziz's innocence and says that it all must be a mistake.

Turton says the mistake is allowing social intimacy between the English and Indians. He becomes very emotional and can't even finish his sentences: "That ... an English girl fresh from England." Turton tells Fielding that there will be a meeting at the club this evening. Fielding asks about Adela and is told she is ill. But Turton is displeased with Fielding for remaining calm and not rallying "to the banner of race. He was still after facts, though the herd had decided on emotion." Turton then walks onto the station platform, and stops the chaotic looting of the provisions and equipment Aziz provided for the party. As he drives back, he feels anger toward every Indian he sees.

Analysis

In another instance of the god motif, Forster physically stages the scene to make Turton look like a god in a shrine, as befits his position as the symbol of administrative power in Chandrapore. He is described as white, suggesting not only race, but also the white heat of justified anger as well as the color of a worshipped idol.

Although speechless at first, Fielding soon collects himself and tries to consider the situation empirically. But now that the English have abandoned reason and decided on emotion, Fielding is once again separating himself from the herd. During the chapter Turton, Fielding, and Adela are all described as mad or half-mad; the chapter ends as Turton, although "insane" with rage, performs justice on the station platform.

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