Significance of Echo in A Passage to India
Echo is a strong force in E. M. Forster’s ‘A Passage to India’. It chases both Mrs Moor and Adela but no one understands its effect. On the one hand, the echo symbolises the confusions in Indian life and on the other, the storm brewing in India during the British rule. Forster tries seeing India in the context of nature – caves, jungles, hills, a star lit sky and the wasp in the room.
The forceful echo is also a part of nature. It shatters people’s peace of mind. Mrs Moore and Adela are feeling disturbed by the echo which unnerves them badly. The echo chases Adela when she enters the caves. Mrs Moore is disturbed and exhausted by the echo inside the caves.
The echo represents a special force and a warning. Its effect on each individual is different. Mrs Moore takes the warning and gets away from India, frustrated at her son’s attitude. However, India’s love keeps echoing in her soul. Adela too feels a strong love for India but cannot express it as Fielding or Mrs Moore do. Mrs Moore is also chased by the echo which makes her feel hollow on the one hand but on the other, it is like a revelation. Indians love her like an angel and talk of her with appreciation. She is a legend and common Indians speak of her with love and devotion and remember her as their sweetheart.
Everybody fails to understand the echo and tries to stay clear of it. In case of Adela, the echo is strong till the trial. She feels its pressure in the court and that’s what helps her speak the truth. The echo shakes her soul and wakes her to the reality. On the one hand, the echo is maddening but on the other it releases her from the grip of Ronny.
The echo can also be understood in terms of the Indian culture. It represents the collision of the British and Indian cultures. Voices echoing in Adela’s mind make her see that she has remained lost in a jungle of voices all her life. She tries to find relief in intellectualism but it 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 it 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 a point where nature and space are united. Mrs Moore feels she has arrived at a point of no return. She feels lost and wrecked. The picnic Aziz planned turns out to be a disaster. She returns from the caves exhausted and exasperated. The echo also makes her feel a bit guilty and complex on the inside. Readers would see it normally as the effect of local weather conditions but the strength of the echo weakens the ladies. The echo turns out to be the pressure on their conscience and shakes the souls of the two women. Mrs Moore’s and Adela’s mindset and how they see India.
Natives think Adela is a foolish and pretentious British girl who is cultured but discourteous. She keeps giving rise to controversies and confusion. Mrs Moore on the other hand is seen as a wise and noble lady. However, the echo chases both and makes them the victim of an illusion. For Adela, life starts in a new lane when she reaches England and for Mrs Moore, India proves to be the liberation from all her troubles. Other people are also troubled by the echo but they grow used to it. In Aziz, there is a mild echo or reflection 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 be understood best in reference to the 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 them is not known to anyone but it exists and there is an interesting reason for its existence. It just makes everyone feel like they have gone nuts.