– Chapter XXVII from E M Forster’s A Passage to India (Part II Caves): Summary and Analysis –
In this chapter, Aziz has grown completely Anti British. Forster’s novel is set in the 1920s when the anti British movement had gained momentum and was getting stronger and stronger. Aziz’s victory stresses on that feeling rising across India. Fielding is trying his best to persuade Aziz to not treat poor Adela as a conquered enemy. However, Aziz has been hurt deeply and would not let this chance of revenge from the Britishgo. He was thinking they had made a scape goat of him and the thought stopped him from thinking favourably of poor Adela who had gained nothing from her Indian tour and would lose everything given Aziz was able to exercise his will. Aziz on the other hand was unaware of Mrs Moore’s death and thought she was the right person to consult on the topic. Forster highlights the growing anti British sentiments in the Muslim community of Chandrapore.
When the victory banquet was over, everyone was feeling tired and lazy. Forster does find space here and there throughout the novel to express the divinity of the Indian sky. “Exactly above their heads hung the constellation of the Lion, the disc of Regulus so large and bright that it resembled a tunnel, and
when this fancy was accepted all the other stars seemed tunnels too.” In these lines Forster does not simply note the nature’s beauty but uses it as a beautiful and serious background to develop the plot. As if God and nature are watching everything that goes on in India every second.
In the meantime, Aziz has changed a lot. From the simple and meek doctor to somewhat arrogant Anti British, the change was now more than evident. The Marabars incident had only catalysed the process that was now complete. He could not differentiate between Adela and the other English and felt she deserved a bigger punishment for she had not challenged his pride but that of India. However, these changes foreshadow many bigger changes. These were the signs that the Indians were not any more willing to bear the British. The Muslims were ready to lose control and this foreshadows the partition that took place when India gained Independence.
When Fielding tried to speak to Aziz he seemed too busy with himself but then he asked back if Fielding was satisfied with the day’s developments. In reply Fielding asked back if he was. Aziz had eaten too much. He expected Panna Lai and calendar to be sacked. Aziz was sure they could not fire him and Fielding thought he was getting a promotion. Aziz started planning holidays which were to be paid for by Adela. He was thinking of Kashmir or might be Persia. this is what he had always wanted and it had at last resulted from his misfortunes. Fielding tried to intervene but Aziz marked the anxiety in his voice and stopped him from speaking. He knew what Fielding was going to suggest. He should pardon Adela, let her go without paying anything and become a gentleman in the eyes of the British and join them once again . He was no more interested in finding approval among the British. Clearly, Mahmoud Ali had been able to excite him as Fielding expected. Otherwise it was generally easy for him to persuade Aziz who said he had grown into British and had he done it sooner, it would have saved him from numerous misfortunes. Fielding was amused because after all it seemed to him words spoken in excitement. He and Aziz were good friends and therefore Fielding found it difficult to be serious about his words. It would have saved Aziz many misfortunes including knowing and being friends with Fielding came the light hearted remark. Aziz changed the topic because he did not expect this turn in conversation.
He proposed to tease Mohammed Latif while he was asleep. Fielding knew Aziz wanted the conversation to stop which was growing heavy. Fielding accepted silently and during the pause he could fill the wind filling the silence with the sound of its brushing the roof. The banquet despite being full of disorder had been successful and this was a kind of privilege that the West was not blessed with. They either worked or remained idle. Forster is just trying to highlight the elasticity that is so remarkable about the English and the ease with which Indians can shed their inhibitions in many cases. Fielding felt awkward in a native dress and he could see how natives were in no mood to let such wonderful moments go. Nawab Bahadur and Nuruddin were being the stars of the party and Forster again highlights the reserve that Fielding successfully practices even when amid a merriment. Behind all this action, Forster saw a civilisation that the west had disturbed but was unable to acquire. Aziz was absolutely civilised this evening – calm but rather tough. It took Fielding some inner protest before he could ask Aziz that even if he has decided to extract money from Adela, he must not treat her like a conquered enemy. Aziz asked him to find out if Adela was wealthy which Fielding already knew she was not. The sum was quite big and would ruin her absolutely. He was trying to persuade Aziz which was now more difficult than ever.
The Muslim was just unwilling to let her go after having made that big a drama and having tried to assassinate his character and yet, he was growing calmer and Fielding’s efforts had been able to calm him a bit. He said that letting Adela go would not prove him sort but would be a show of weakness and the British would feel free to believe that he had done so under pressure. He did not want to gain promotion and would work in some Muslim state like Bhopal or Hyderabad. Fielding tried to mention the long conversation he had with Adela but it appeared that the incident had unsettled Aziz and made him feel too deeply. He told Fielding he was not interested but Fielding pressed him to hear. Fielding tried to persuade him by citing Adela’s character and that when she realised she was wrong, she had faced it bravely. The way she had restrained herself despite all the pressure from the English people on her back, it was not even possible for Fielding. Aziz should treat her considerately because she had in a way prevented Aziz from lading in a bigger trap. He knew what everyone around Aziz wanted and it would be difficult for him to resist their push but still he must be merciful because Adela’s mistake was too small to let her have the worst of both sides. He must be like one of those six Mughal emperors he appreciated or like all six of them but Aziz thought an apology was still justified. Fielding was ready and he could write down just any form of apology and Fielding would bring it signed tomorrow. the next words of Aziz shocked poor Fielding. When it came to women, it was difficult for Fielding to respect Aziz’s emotions. he called her an awful old hag and Fielding knew there was no use arguing with the Muslim. Both got ready to sleep but Fielding once again reminded him that Aziz’s poor choice of words in case of ladies was something that he found very difficult to reconcile with.
Aziz again got into an argument over it and fielding told him he was hurt. When they were about to sleep Aziz mentioned Mrs Moore (unaware of her death) and said that he will consult her on this topic and will pursue the course she suggests. Fielding was not amused; these discussions could wait till tomorrow morning. Aziz grew passionate while talking of Mrs Moore and was reminded of how her name in the court had ignited hope in his heart. She was now gone far to she her other two children Ralph and Stella. The names surprised Fielding. He was not as familiar with Mrs Moore and her family as Aziz was. Aziz too and just three meetings with her but they had grown to know each other better. Aziz thought she was an oriental at heart besides she never gave the faintest clue of the haughtiness as every British does except Fielding. Somehow Adela too had not found it possible to resist falling in the pit and had dragged Aziz into something he never wanted. Aziz was still feeling better and Fielding had grown the impression that he might be overreacting. It made him think that Aziz’s emotions are disproportionate to their objects.
While Mrs Moore always ignited some passion and respect, Adela was on the other hand nowhere a recipient of the right emotions. She had been decent that morning and brought a drama that may have otherwise stretched to its close by making a sacrifice which had led her to a very poor situation. Only if Aziz could understand. He could not weigh his emotions or measure them if they are directed in the right amount at the right person. Fielding was amused. he must have known. After all one cannot eat and get to keep his cake. Aziz was growing overwhelmed. If all relationships were just give and take, then why bother being friends with anyone. He thought Fielding had grown too materialistic this evening and that was unfair but for Fielding Aziz was the one being unfair. Fielding saw that imprisonment had recast is character and some of the edges that were visible otherwise were now under tight restraint. Aziz understood to an extent and so his voice remained calm and still he thought Fielding was not justified towards Mrs Moore who was the noblest soul according to him among the rude British.
Fielding was not feeling very good about the name of someone dead finding mention again and again. Her repeated mention made him blurt out that she was dead. Hamidullah had been listening and did not want the festive mood of the evening being spoilt. He exclaimed that Fielding was just trying to pull Aziz’s leg and the later should not believe him. Aziz was in no mood to believe the news either. what struck Fielding was that one was immortal till everyone can feel his death. It was true about Mrs Moore because she was not yet dead for the oaths around him. He was reminded of another relative who had faith in the existence of a Christian heaven and that they would meet again in a next life. Fielding himself was an atheist but he still respected his friend’s will because that is essential in friendship. It seemed the dead people were waiting for him. A sense of guilt took over him and he thought he had disrespected Mrs Moore by calling her dead this evening. A crescent moon was shining in the sky looking exhausted like the people. With dawn again the same daily occupation will follow.