A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 2, Chapter 31 ((Caves)) | Summary

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Summary

Aziz's mind, sitting with the rumor of Fielding's dalliance with Adela, has come to accept it as fact, which bothers him greatly. When they meet, Aziz tells him about the latest scandal: an affair between Mr. McBryde and Miss Derek. Aziz then discusses the rumor about Fielding and Adela, which just annoys Fielding, who tries to change the subject. He says he doesn't care about rumors because he travels light. But Aziz taunts him about the affair until Fielding responds rudely, hurting Aziz's feelings. Fielding then apologizes and says they will talk further at dinner, but Aziz makes an excuse; Fielding then demands Aziz keep their engagement.

Before dinner Fielding must attend a function at the English club, where he has been recently readmitted. There he sees many new faces, but concludes little has changed. He then meets a dispirited Aziz for dinner and mentions he will be going to England for a while. They talk of poetry, and Fielding says he'd hoped Aziz would write poetry about spiritual ideas. When Aziz then asks if Fielding will visit Adela in England, Fielding says he intends to. After this Aziz is out of sorts and complains of a headache. He returns to his bungalow, dispirited, where he sees evidence of damage done during his imprisonment. He then starts to suspect Fielding intends to marry Adela for money when he goes to England. Unable to shake the suspicion, Aziz decides to leave town with his children the next day so he doesn't have to see Fielding again before the schoolmaster leaves for England. Although Fielding writes him a letter to patch things up, Aziz replies coldly. He becomes more certain of his suspicion, and his friends also begin to have doubts about Fielding.

Analysis

In this chapter rumor has the power to defeat reason. Fielding, who holds to his notion of traveling light, does not immediately deny the rumor, instead saying he doesn't care about it. This leads Aziz to press him further to a bad result. But after he hurts Aziz, Fielding realizes traveling light doesn't work when one hopes for a warm relationship with one's friend. Despite the efforts of both, the rumor turns to suspicion in Aziz's mind, and his subjective belief overpowers all reason.

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