Significance of Echo in A Passage to India
Echo is a strong force in A Passage to India that chases everyone and no one understands it. On the one hand, it symbolizes the various confusions in Indian life and on the other the tumultuous phase that India is going through. India cannot be seen in a context far from nature – caves, jungles, hills, star lit sky and even the wasp. A forceful echo seems to be ready to shatter people’s peace of mind. Mrs Moore and Adela are particularly disturbed by the echo. Adela is chased by it when she enters the caves. Mrs Moore feels disturbed and exhausted by the echo in the caves.
The echo represents a special force and its presence is like a warning. Mrs Moore takes the warning and gets away from India feeling frustrated at her boy’s attitude. Still, India’s love keeps echoing in her soul. Adela too feels a strong love for India but never gets to express it. Mrs Moore feels chased by an echo that makes her feel hollow on the one hand and loved on another. Indians love her like an angel and make good stories about her. She becomes a legend and Indians speak of her with devotion and love and she becomes a sweet memory for them. Everybody fails to understand the echo and tries to keep clear of it. In case of Adela, the echo remains strong till the trial as if questioning her conscience. She feels its strong blow in the court and that’s when she makes up her mind to speak the truth. The echo shakes her out of a deep slumber so she can face her reality.
This echo can be understood in terms of the Indian culture. The various voices that echo in Adela’s mind are a reflection of how lost she is feeling in this world. She is trying to find relief in intellectualism but that does not work for her. Fielding understands her confusion. He knows how Adela can mend her mistake. She is a good girl who is just unable to find the right match for herself. Her feelings echo the same confusion Fielding is familiar with. The echo makes her feel lost but then clears her biggest confusion. She finds a new lease of life and goes back to where she belongs. The echo inside the Marabar caves seems like an end point where nature and space seem to have become one. Mrs Moore feels like she has reached a point where she can walk no further and returns from the caves feeling exhausted and exasperated. She feels like nature has talked to her and that she has walked into eternity. The echo helps readers understand Mrs Moore’s and Adela’s mindset and how they see India.
Natives consider Adela foolish and pretentious. She keeps giving rise to controversies and confusions. Mrs Moore on the other hand is seen as a wise and noble lady. However, the echo chases both of them and creates an illusion before them. For Adela life means a new start when she had reached England and for Mrs Moore India means liberation from all her troubles. Other people are also troubled by the echo but they have grown used to it. In Aziz, we feel a mild echo of the Muslim emperors and Urdu poets. Mrs Moore and Adela Quested echo each others’ feelings and so do Aziz and Fielding. The relevance of the echo can also be understood in reference to nature. The events in the Marabar caves are significant and everybody’s life takes a new turn from there. The echo chases them and grows silent after a few days. What the echo is and why it chases people is not known to anyone but it exists and there is a reason for its existence.