A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 27 ((Caves)) | Summary

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Summary

After the victory banquet at Mr. Zulfiqar's mansion, Fielding, Aziz, and others are sleeping on the roof. Fielding and Aziz discuss their plans, which for Aziz involves spending the money he anticipates receiving from the suit against Adela. Fielding doesn't want him to go through with the suit, but Aziz says he has no reason to curry favor with the British; he has become anti-British and hopes to leave British India. Fielding tries to explain the magnitude of what Adela has done, and he suggests that Aziz be merciful like a Mogul emperor. Aziz says even Mogul emperors desire apologies first. Fielding tells Aziz to dictate an apology; he will get Adela to sign it. Aziz first comes up with a sexually crude apology in which he calls Adela a hag, but then he says he will consult Mrs. Moore and will pardon Adela if she advises it. This silences Fielding, who knows Mrs. Moore is dead but doesn't want to tell Aziz.

Aziz then speaks fondly of Mrs. Moore, calling her an Oriental. Fielding says he can't understand why Aziz is so chivalrous to Mrs. Moore but ungenerous to Adela: "Your emotions never seem in proportion to their objects, Aziz." Aziz answers, "Is emotion a sack of potatoes, so much the pound?" When Fielding persists, Aziz brings up Mrs. Moore again; this finally leads Fielding to tell Aziz she is dead. Hamidullah overhears this and claims Fielding is lying. Fielding leaves it at that for the time being: "It struck him that people are not really dead until they are felt to be dead."

Analysis

Fielding, in a very British way, has made a connection with Adela's decent honesty, and he feels he must stand up for her. But the post-trial Aziz is defiant, angry about what happened to him, and unconcerned about what the British may think of him. Reason doesn't move him; he is looking for an emotional appeal from Adela, and in doing so, he once again brings up his sexual snobbery. But because she showed him warmth, he still has strong feelings about Mrs. Moore, despite Fielding saying she has done nothing for him. Emotions are everything to Aziz, but Fielding can't understand how he applies them.

In holding back information about Mrs. Moore's death to maintain the "truth of mood" of the victory party, Fielding temporarily exists in a world in which Mrs. Moore is still alive to everyone, illustrating the idea he had at the end of Chapter 26: people exist in one another's minds. Once again Forster demonstrates the power of subjectivity over objective fact.

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