Critical Essays Structure of A Passage to India


A Passage to India falls naturally into three parts. The first is dominated by the educated Moslem gentlemen, with Aziz as the most prominent. It reveals the division of Chandrapore into two factions, the English and the Indians. It shows how each feels toward the other with a kind of uneasiness apparent in the differences between them. It is the period before the hot weather and on the surface, benign.

The Caves section plunges the groups into the hot weather. The cave incident that involves Aziz and Adela in a trial reveals the hatred that has lain below the surface in both groups. Evil and ugliness prevail and violence erupts briefly and then subsides, subservient to the oppressive heat.

Warily, in this section, Forster begins to sound the temple bells, and the voice of Hinduism becomes more and more prevalent.

The trial scatters the main participants in many directions. Mrs. Moore dies en route to England; Adela returns to England after her broken engagement; Fielding is promoted to a new position that involves travel; and Aziz and Godbole retire to the Hindu state of Mau, which is the setting for the final section of the novel.

The Temple section regroups three of the main characters, and, as the title suggests, brings Hinduism into the spotlight. Fielding, traveling less "light" than usual, is reunited with Aziz, but Fielding's marriage makes complete reconciliation impossible. The rainy season predominates and seems to give new life and to renew the life cycle.

Although some critics seem to believe that Forster ends the novel on a pessimistic note, the prevalence of Hinduism and its beneficent effect on Fielding somewhat denies the charge.

E. K. Brown discusses the rhythm in the book, saying that there is a rise-fall-rise pattern indicated in the events of the three parts of the book: in the first part, good; in the second, evil; and in the third, good again.

Godbole's song runs as a haunting melody through the part of the book that follows the tea party, popping up unexpectedly to produce strange effects. It finally comes to full fruition at the celebration of the birth of the god Krishna.