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Demi Falcon

on 18 March 2014

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A Passage to India
By E.M. Forster

Forster was born January 1st, 1879.
Educated at Tonbridge School
E. M. Forster went on to Cambridge.
His father, an architect, had died when Forster was only two years old of tuberculosis, but a legacy from his aunt Marianne Thornton afforded him his education and the opportunity to travel.
It was his experience of Cambridge and of travel in Europe after taking his degree in 1901, which stimulated Forster's imagination and thought and led to the extraordinary burst of creative activity that produced a volume of short stories.
Born in England, Educated in Cambridge
Inspiration for A Passage to India
Forester died June 7th, 1970 in Coventry, United Kingdom.
Forster also never married in his lifetime
Forster's biography, A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster, was released in 2010. The biography touched on part of Forester's life that had been kept out of biographies in the past.
Forster volunteered for the International Red Cross, and served in Alexandria, Egypt from 1915 to 1918 during WWI.
In 1912, Forster first visited India and returned again in 1922 to serve as private secretary to the Maharajah of the state of Dewas.
India is the location for Forster's only novel that is set entirely out of England.
A Passage to India, which, begun in 1912, was not completed until after Forster's second visit and was finally published in 1924.
The conflicting worlds that Forster treats in this novel are those of the colonial English and the native Indian.
Forster received a James Tait Black Memorial Prize for A Passage to India.
Literary Critiques on A Passage to India
A summary of A Passage to India
A Passage to India is a story set in colonial India around the turn of the century.
Dr. Aziz, the protagonist of the novel is introduced as a native of the city of Chandrapore, India, and as one who is struggling to deal with the hardships of English imperialism.
He then meets Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested, Englishwomen who want to see "the real India" (47).
Throughout the novel Aziz attempts to befriend the Englishman Mr. Fielding, a man who seems to understand the Indians and their position.
In these endeavors Aziz manages to severely upset Adela, to the point that she presses sexual assault charges on him.
The climax of the novel, the court case, ends suddenly when Adela drops all charges and Aziz is heralded as the man who can bring India together.
Following the case Aziz is a man searching for a new life.
He moves to Mau, India and becomes a doctor for the ruler.
During his daily duties he sees Fielding, Roger Moore, and Stella Fielding, and, as the result of a humorous boat crash, Aziz and Fielding ride horses together and discuss, in mutual respect for one another, that they cannot be friends because of the politics of their two home countries.
They can be friends only when "we ... drive every blasted Englishman into the sea", but "not yet" (322).
From "A Reader's Guide to Great Twentieth Century English Novels" by Frederick R. Karl and Marvin Magalander
Socio-Historical Context
English colonization of India began in the 1600s as a trading post and attempt at controlling the religious divide.
Through the hundreds of years of colonization a great divide came between the English and Indians.
Because of this there was a mutual distrust by both cultures.
There were many Englishmen who disagreed with the colonization, and all of the Indians disagreed.
E.M. Forster was born in 1879 London, England.
Throughout his life he was cultured and indoctrinated to dislike Indians.
While in England Forster began tutoring a Muslim from India, from whom he learned about the culture and country.
Because of this experience Forster was convinced to visit India, and thus came A Passage to India.
During his first trip in 1912 Forster began work on his novel of political statement and moral argument.
A Passage to India explored the relationships between the English and Indian people, most often showing the English as the perpetrators of the conflict.
Forster wrote A Passage to India in an attempt to relate the experiences he had as an Englishman in India and explain the animosity.

Assimilation and Acculturation
The novel explores the attempted assimilation of Aziz into English culture.
He attends Fielding's parties, tries to entertain the English, and spends more time with the English than with Indians, in the beginning of the novel.
Aziz becomes frustrated at Fielding's party, and found himself "in no mood to be forgotten" (81) when Ronny attempted to take the women away from the party.
The English felt themselves entirely superior to the Indians, and felt that it would belittle themselves to befriend an Indian.
Though the have lived in India for hundreds of years, the colonizing English make no attempts to enter into the Indian way of life; instead they saw themselves as "little gods" (42).
In this vein, the novel portrays a sense of anti-acculturation, in which the English refuse to acculturate despite being in the Indian's country.
Because of this the novel portrays neither a successful case of assimilation nor acculturation.
According to this criticism, the novel focuses "on the matters of human conduct and especially with the dark places in the human heart," accounting for the "unhappiness and confusion not only between individuals, but between races and nations" (103).
One highly notable example of this statement occurs prior to Aziz's trial, where the Civil Surgeon and formerly Aziz's employer, Major Callendar, mentions the torture he's done to the Nawab Bahadur's grandson, Nureddin:
"I've put the fear of God into them at the Hospital anyhow. You should see the grandson of our so-called leading loyalist (the Nawab Bahadur)." He tittered brutally as he described poor Nureddin's present appearance. "His beauty's gone . . . Old Panna Lal brought him the looking-glass yesterday and he blubbered . . . I laughed . . . nothing's too bad for these people." (240)
As soon as the natives had heard of this, they instigated the mass protest that ensued after the trial.
The described series of events both demonstrate the conflict between two races, British and Indian, as a result of the cruelty of some British people, in the case where that cruelty becomes a "single story" for the British stereotype.
From "The Novels of E.M. Forster" by Virginia Woolf
#4. Are the issues of integration, marginalization, and/or cultural maintenance present in the text?
Forster focuses on how Indian culture is represented and disrespected from the perspective of a European colonizer. Chapter 2 really grasps the disrespect that the English have for the Indians. The English are constantly in need to show their power over others as seen when Major Callendar calls for Aziz to arrive at his home during Aziz's dinner, "He has found out our dinner hour, that's all, and chooses to interrupt us every time, in order to show his power (12)." When Aziz arrives at Callendar's compound, he finds that he has already left with no regard to leave a note. Aziz also comes out to find that his carriage had been taken by his wife. English Women in the novel are portrayed to be even more disrespectful than the men even. Aziz is an imperative example of marginalization; he feels estranged from his native heritage as an Indian yet is repudiated by the English as a sophisticated and Westernized individual. Aziz doesn't even find have any appreciation for his homeland until the end of the novel, "It led him towards the vague and bulky figure of a mother-land. He was without natural affection for the land of his birth, but the Marabar Hills drove him to it. Half closing his eyes, he attempted to love India (298)." Also, A Passage to India is an affiliate of postcolonial literature when we see the kind of social consequences the British have created in the process of colonization for the Indians. Integration is extremely difficult for both parties because either entities of cultures do not accept one another and have created stigma for each other's race. The Indians have stigma for the British just has the British have for the Indians, "They all become exactly the same, not worse, not better. I give any Englishman two years, be he Turton or Burton. It is only the difference of a letter. And I give any English woman six months. All are exactly alike (7)." This makes for an extremely difficult environment to have a healthy integration between the Indians and the English and even Hindus amongst Muslims.
Cultural Literary Criticism - Personalized . . .
The novel itself is a notable example of postcolonial literature, which investigates "what happens when two cultures clash and when one of them with its accompanying ideology deems itself superior to the other" (Cultural Studies, 265).
This is prevalent in the novel, as the bribe system established by the British sublimely renders the local conditions to their favor: "When we poor [Indians] takes bribes, we perform what we are to perform . . . The English take and do nothing" (Forster, 8). As a result, the British become the dominant culture over the local Indians, both Islamic and Hindu alike.
Postcolonial literature also explains how the colonized "respond to change in language, curricular matters in education, race differences, and a host of other discourses" (Cultural Studies, 266)
Aside from Dr. Aziz's ability to communicate with his English companions, other Indians have also acquired the ability to speak English. One notable incident occurs at the bridge party scene, where the lady Indian guests surprises the host, Mrs. Turton with the words "Perhaps we speak yours a little" (Forster, 42). From there, a full-on conversation between the two factions ensued, demonstrating the change in dialect with the colonized.
One significant element of postcolonial literature describes the stereotype created by the colonizers, that the colonized, orientals, were "indolent, thoughtless, sexually immoral, unreliable, and demented" (267). This stereotype is named "Orientalism," as coined by literary critic Edward W. Said.
In the midst of the trial scene, the police superintendent, Mr. McBryde, "smiled faintly at [the Indian side's] fatuity. Indians invariably collapse over some point such as this" (Forster, 248). This incident not only demonstrates the said stereotype, but also its effects, on how the dominant culture tends to underestimate the true potential of the colonized.
#7. Is social cohesion ever achieved?
In the novel there is no social cohesion. The English hate the Indians, the Indians hate the English, and the Indians hate each other. Each group is their own separate entity inside of the novel. No group ever intermingles, and on the rare occurrence that they do, there is a clear social divide. In a conversation with Mrs. Moore's son in the temple, quite reminiscent of the conversation Aziz had with Mrs. Moore herself, it is stated quite clearly that "the two nations cannot be friends" (311). Though the English have been living in India for hundreds of years, their sense of superiority does not allow any sort of social cohesion to be achieved in the novel. Outside of the novel, in the real world, one would like to think that social cohesion can be achieved. Such examples are few and far between, with many more examples being seen for the contrary (India and Pakistan, North and South Korea, Czech Republic and Slovakia).
This criticism focuses on a significant element in the novel: the setting.
It mentions that "we notice things[,] about the country, especially spontaneously, accidentally almost, as if we were actually there" (1261)
Explicit, but simple descriptions of the setting are scattered all over the book. One notable for this segment of the criticism is a series of descriptions about the first spelunking trip through the Marabar Caves, describing it from what seemingly is Mrs. Moore's perspective:
"The small black hole gaped where their varied forms and colours had momentarily functioned. They were sucked in like water down a drain. Bland and bald rose the precipices" (162).
"the cave had become too full . . . Crammed with villagers and servants, the circular chamber began to smell. [Mrs. Moore] lost Aziz and Adela in the dark, didn't know who touched her, couldn't breathe, and some vile, naked thing struck her face and settled on her mouth like a pad" (162).
"there was a terrifying echo . . . The echo in a Marabar cave is entirely devoid of distinction. Whateve is said, the same monotonous voice replies . . . "Boum" is the sound as far as the human alphabet can express it" (162-163).
This description renders the criticism as valid, as the description not only creates a certain effect similar to imagery, but also it is accurate, as one of the people in this group had an experience with caves in the past, as he will describe to you after reading this...
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