A Passage to India | Study Guide

E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India | Part 3, Chapter 37 ((Temple)) | Summary

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Summary

Aziz and Fielding go for one last ride in the Mau jungle. Godbole never showed Fielding the school he had come to see, and Aziz tells him this is because the school was converted into a granary, despite existing on paper. Fielding is now more serious about education, and no longer travels so light, having a family to support. But for now, the two friends are reconciled. Aziz gives Fielding a letter for Adela, thanking her for her brave actions, and he apologizes for thinking Fielding was after his money. Fielding asks Aziz to speak to Stella, who may have some insight about the Marabar. He says their union, which had been unequal, now feels blessed on their visit to Mau.

Aziz and Fielding know this is their last meeting. They have resolved their differences, but their paths will no longer cross, because Fielding is solidly a member of a British community. Fielding asks Aziz to explain the spiritual dimension of the Krishna festival; he thinks Stella and Ralph have a connection to Hinduism he cannot understand. But Aziz says he can be no help. They then turn to politics, in which each has hardened his position. Fielding criticizes Indian shortcomings, and then Aziz says it's time for the English to leave. Fielding challenges Aziz to find a way to unite India with all its divisions, but Aziz says that he and Fielding shall be friends only when India drives the English out. Riding side by side on a single track, their horses swerve apart to avoid a rock, indicating the earth is not yet ready for this friendship.

Analysis

Just as Aziz has changed dramatically since the beginning of the novel, Fielding, too, has changed completely. Once a loner who didn't join the herd, he now feels more attached to the British Empire. Once someone who traveled light, he now supports a family. Once someone who said he didn't want anything to do with love, he is now concerned about his relationship with his wife. Once an atheist skeptic, he now wants to understand his wife's and brother-in-law's spiritual dimensions. Aziz, once happily employed practicing Western medicine and eager to guide English visitors through his country, is now living a fully Indian life, writing poetry in the Muslim Indian literary tradition, serving Indian employers in an Indian-ruled state.

With all the accumulated misunderstandings settled, the two friends, now affectionate, still know they cannot be together as friends. As long as England occupies India, as long as the colonial relationship exists, an Indian and an Englishman cannot truly be friends, which was the question originally posed at Hamidullah's house in Chapter 2. Ralph knows this instinctively, the earth knows it, and now Aziz and Fielding know it as well.

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