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A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 25 ((Caves)) | Summary



After the trial Adela—who has betrayed her own people—is drawn into a crowd of Indians and carried along by them. She bumps into Fielding, who asks where she is going. She doesn't know, so he puts her into his carriage. At this moment, Aziz calls to Fielding, "Don't leave me." But Fielding's carriage stands horseless, his sais not having expected the trial to end so soon, so he feels he cannot leave her. Meanwhile, his students offer to pull the carriage with him in it, and although the Indians revile Adela, the students garland both her and Fielding with flowers while pulling them along behind Aziz's carriage. Although Fielding wants to be with Aziz, he feels obliged to protect Adela, and once his students deposit the pair at the college, he gives her rooms to stay in.

At the same time Aziz, surrounded by friends and supporters, is sorely aware of Fielding's absence. Mahmoud Ali and Hamidullah urge some sort of demonstration, over the objections of the Nawab Bahadur. But then it is rumored that Nureddin has been tortured and pepper has been put into his wounds; the crowd turns toward the Minto Hospital with riot on its mind.

The riot is avoided, however, by the appearance of Dr. Panna Lai, who was to testify on behalf of the English—partly because of his hatred for Aziz—and is therefore an object of scorn among the Indians. Seeing no escape, he approaches Aziz's carriage to beg forgiveness, and soon begins playing the clown for their amusement, stepping on his umbrella so it strikes him on the nose. Panna Lai fetches the bandaged Nureddin, and then the Nawab Bahadur makes a speech in which he renounces his English-conferred title to become simply Mr. Zulfiqar. The expected riot is averted, and celebrations are planned for the evening, but at this point the heat is putting everyone to sleep.


Fielding, having separated himself from his own people and now a hero among the Indians, finds himself once again unwillingly sticking with his own kind. He knows that if the crowd turns and attacks Adela, he will defend her, and this is not how he wishes to die. In a repeat of what had occurred right after Aziz's arrest, he abandons Aziz a second time. The crowds, in a wild frenzy, treat him—and even Adela—almost as gods as they pull them through the streets.

On this hot day, the much-feared riot seems about to erupt into full boil. The crowd is egged on by rumor, which brings them to the Minto Hospital. There readers once again see the motif of the clown performing for the powerful, as Panna Lai pulls comic stunts to appease the wrath of those who now have power over him, thereby averting the riot.

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