Critical Essays Nature in A Passage to India


This novel does more than stress the malignant effect of moral and political domination; it also emphasizes the coexistence of nature with human struggle. Someone has noted that Forster knew and appreciated many of the beauties of India's landscape, but this is not the novel that depicts them. The mud, the dun-colored sky, the buzzing flies, the evil caves, the floods, and the merciless heat constitute for Forster the setting about Chandrapore. It is a place of cheerless plains and "lumpy" hills which contain the "fists and fingers" of the Marabar. "Nothing fits," and man's creations are completely out of harmony with nature.

It is quite evident that Forster intentionally chooses a most unlovely part of India to show the disharmony among the people who inhabit it. He explores the extremes of benevolence and malevolence and uses nature to help with both. For example, the beauty of the moon illuminates the lovely friendship of Mrs. Moore and Aziz; the pale sun against an "insipid sky" forecasts the evil of the cave incident. The wasp enhances Mrs. Moore's and Professor Godbole's concept of God's love for His creation. The bee stings bring Ralph and Aziz together, but the rocks force Fielding and Aziz apart. This influence of nature on human affairs is in line with Hindu philosophy.