A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 29 ((Caves)) | Summary

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Summary

The Lieutenant-Governor visits, commends Fielding for his role in the case against Aziz, and tells him he will be invited to rejoin the club. Fielding, who has been staying at Hamidullah's, finally suggests that Adela write Aziz a letter of apology. With Fielding's assistance she repeatedly attempts to write a letter, but each one is a failure. Fielding attributes this to her lack of affection for Aziz or for Indians: "Indians know whether they are liked or not," he says, "Justice never satisfies them." In the wake of the trial, the Indians have become more aggressive, searching for more imagined wrongs. Fielding works on Aziz, trying to get him to dismiss the suit against Adela for damages, and finally succeeds by suggesting this is what Mrs. Moore would have wanted.

Fielding has one last interview with Adela after Ronny has broken off their engagement. She feels terrible about the problems she has caused, all because she was trying to determine if she loved Ronny. Fielding, cynical about marriage, says he wants nothing to do with love. They then speculate one last time about what happened in the cave. Adela concludes it must have been the guide and says Mrs. Moore somehow—by telepathy?—knew what really happened. Adela and Fielding accept that some things always will remain a mystery. Realizing they like each other and share attitudes in common, they promise to stay in touch. On her way home, after Antony tries to blackmail her in Bombay, claiming she has been carrying on an affair with Fielding, Adela stops in Egypt and meets a vapid missionary who tells her, "Every life ought to contain both a turn and a return." She decides to look up Mrs. Moore's other children, Ralph and Stella, when she gets home.

Analysis

Adela's attempt to apologize fails because of her lack of warmth; emotion is central to Indians and is especially so to Aziz. Fielding's words about justice are significant because they show the Indians still feel they are disliked despite the well-intentioned legal system the English have introduced and in which Ronny worked earnestly and assiduously.

Similarly, Fielding finally succeeds in dissuading Aziz from filing a suit for damages not by arguments or by evidence, but rather by working on Aziz's emotions and referring to Mrs. Moore's wishes.

Yet Fielding and Adela get on because both are honest, rational atheists. They both say they are not interested in love, the issue that plagued Adela in the caves. Objective and rational as they are, however, they cannot puzzle out an answer to what happened in the caves. When Adela suggests telepathy, Fielding recoils from it, and she immediately withdraws the idea.

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