A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 26 ((Caves)) | Summary

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Summary

That evening Adela tries to explain to Fielding her version of what happened. She tells him about her echo and says it is now gone. She says she had been out of sorts—"living at half pressure"—ever since attending his tea party, and perhaps she had something like a hallucination in the cave. Fielding appreciates her honesty and puts forth his own theory: McBryde, by taking Adela through the fateful day moment by moment, somehow "exorcised" her. They both confess they don't believe in heaven or the afterlife, and Fielding then apologizes for his behavior to Ronny. Adele asks what Aziz says of her, but Fielding won't say; he doesn't want to report Aziz was enraged to be connected to someone as ugly as her. Adela and Fielding then discuss whether the guide might have assaulted her.

Hamidullah enters to fetch Fielding to Dilkusha, Mr. Zulfiqar's estate. Adela explains her conduct to him, but angry and confounded by her behavior, he describes to her the damage she has done to Aziz. Adela says she will go to the servantless Dak Bungalow, but Fielding, now feeling sympathy for her, insists she stay at the college while he is away. Hamidullah objects, saying Fielding will be responsible if anything happens. Hamidullah is not moved to pity her; although what she did was just, she showed no emotion, no love, so he didn't believe her sincerity. "While relieving the Oriental mind, she had chilled it." Just then Ronny arrives, reporting that Mrs. Moore died at sea. Hamidullah calls it Ronny's punishment for sending her off, but Fielding says her testimony could not have helped the defense. Hamidullah replies, "She loved Aziz, he says, also India, and he loved her." Neither man expresses much grief over Mrs. Moore's death, and they decide not to tell Aziz about it until after the victory party. Adela returns with Ronny, asking if she might stay at the college after all, and Fielding agrees. Hamidullah then speaks cruelly to Ronny about his mother's death. On the way to the party at Dilkusha, Hamidullah asks Amritrao what compensation he will demand from Adela for Aziz. The answer is 20,000 rupees, which upsets Fielding greatly.

Analysis

Fielding and Adela find out they have much in common: they believe in honesty, they don't believe in the supernatural, and together they try to find a logical explanation for what happened. Fielding, who had disliked her before and dislikes taking sides, finds himself taking Adela's part because she is the underdog. This puts Fielding in a somewhat awkward position; again he is "sticking with the English."

Adela's honest actions make little impression on Hamidullah, because she did not appeal to the Indians' emotions nor did she show any regret or warmth. As has been seen throughout the novel, the Indians tend to believe people's emotions before evidence. As Aziz had told Fielding in Chapter 11: "No one can ever realize how much kindness we Indians need."

The events of the day exhaust Fielding and lead him to conclude, "We exist not in ourselves, but in terms of each other's minds," which is an acknowledgement of the power of subjectivity over objectivity.

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