Summary and Analysis of Chapter XXI and XXII from A Passage to India

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  • Post last modified:October 8, 2018

 Summary and analysis of Chapter 21 and 22 from  E M Forster’s A Passage to India (Part 2 Caves)

Chapter XXI: Summary and Analysis (List of content)

Fielding is a man of strong moral understanding and character gets proved in this chapter. Rather than standing with unjust English, he would stand with the natives and fight for justice. His being with them is a critical support for Aziz and party but it leaves English feeling furious and letting off steam at the club. Feeling humiliated Fielding breaks with his own herd and starts exploring methods to free Aziz. Forster  shows that the English cannot withstand any challenge to their  prestige and will take every small assault as a catastrophe. Every feeling inside the club is fake and still when one wolf howls, the entire herd follows. The English are just a pack of wolves and every single of them is thirsting for native blood. Fielding is standing alone, feeling a bit punished for his betrayal of the herd…..

Fielding had broken with the club and now he was feeling good about it. So, he moved on to join his new allies. He could not allow his colleagues any more to look down upon him and make him feel more isolated and sad. He would miss a few things like billiards and a few light moments with McBryde but then he was used to travelling light. His horse grew afraid at the entrance to the bazaars seeing a young man dressed as a tiger. Mohurram was approaching and rehearsals were on. The drum beats in the city too sounded good tempered. He was invited to inspect a Tajia ( a tomb created to remember the death of grandson of the prophet at Karla). Children were busy decorating it and Fielding spent the evening with Hamidullah, Nawab  Bahadur and team. Amrit Rao had accepted the invitation and plans were underway for a renewed bail application. Miss Quested was out of danger and so it was  difficult to reject the bail plea now.  They were having a serious conference. However, some musicians playing in the compound were spoiling it. These musicians were chanting and shaking earthen jars containing pebbles. Fielding suggested to dismiss them as he was feeling distracted but Nawab Bahadur said they could bring good luck. Late at night he thought of talking to Godbole about his rude behaviour towards Heaslop but Godbole was off to sleep and in a few days had slipped off to his new job. He was good at giving everyone a slip.

Chapter XXII: Summary and Analysis

British pride had been challenged by the incident and poor Adela was receiving sympathy from everyone in her circle. However, the caves had affected her  mind and soul and she kept babbling.  Forster shows how the herd’s attitude changed when one of them was affected. All were speaking in the same tone and to vent their frustration were asking for a holocaust for the natives. Again Forster shows how comic the British can be and how funny things can get due to their herd mentality. The only one who stood aloof was Fielding. 

The hollow caves had left poor Adela and Mrs Moore feeling hollow. They had not expected such a ghostly experience. Adela was in rest for several days at Mcbryde’s bungalow. It was the sun and the cactus thorns. She had hundreds of their spines in her flesh and Miss Derek and Mrs McBryde were examining them through  magnifying glass. The shock she had received in the cave had kept growing. She had remained inert but now her mind had started to wander. while the two were busy extracting thorns from her skin, her mind was thinking of other things. Some people came to visit and some of them came close and others kept away.  Her mind was thinking of stupid things.  The people that came to visit both men and women were too kind and respectful. However, no-one would understand her trouble and why she kept vibrating between common sense and hysteria.

When she spoke, it was like the whole ordeal had lasted only thirty seconds and in the meantime the culprit had not gotten anytime to touch her. Then her eyes filled with tears and she would completely break down. Adela was deeply shocked and that no-one could even realise that shedding tears further demoralised her.  She was going through bouts of hysteria. Adela wanted to see Mrs Moore but she was herself unwell.  The echo was having an effect on her nerves. Evil had entered her life and it was spreading.  The atmosphere of grief and depression remained for several days. While her friends tried to keep their spirits up by demanding holocaust for the natives, she was too weak to even follow. When the cactus thorns had been extracted and her fever had subsided, Ronny came to take her away. He was looking worn and while Adela expected care and intimacy of him, it all had gone missing.  Then Ronny revealed the more important things to her. Mohurram celebrations were underway and they did not want riots to happen. Another more painful thing was that she had to be cross examined by an Indian lawyer. She asked if Mrs Moore was going to be there with her. Ronny affirmed that  he too was going to be with them. Natives had objected to him and so the case was to appear before his assistant Das.  With Das looking over the case everyone was certain that the British were going to win. This had not satisfied everyone and some of the British ladies had sent a telegram to the lieutenant governor’s wife.

This had not satisfied Ronny or McBryde either, but it was the result of democracy. In the older days an Englishwoman was not required to appear in the court; leave alone being cross questioned. McBryde apologised to her for the condition and this sympathy again made her shed tears. However, she quickly realised that since she had nothing to do, it made her shed tears all the time. A letter had arrived from Fielding and Mcbryde told Adela about it.  He told her that  the defence had gotten hold him but he was the only reliable and sane man in the other party.  She read the letter which only suggested that Aziz was innocent. However, after being brainwashed for as long, Adela was feeling sympathetic for Ronny and not for Aziz or Fielding. Mrs McBryde bid her goodbye and while she still felt repelled by Anglo India, its hold had tightened upon her. Ronny had driven her back as the weather kept growing hotter and hotter making it difficult for the human beings. As they were approaching the bungalow Ronny had told her that mother was waiting for them but since she was quite old, one must not expect her to take things normally. However, Miss Quested was aware that she and Mrs Moore were deep friends and that their friendship was going to last. The house approached and it was a replica of the one that Adela had left. Mrs Moore was sitting on a  sofa and she gave them a feeble welcome.  Adela sat down and took Mrs Moore’s hands in her hand but the old lady felt repelled. Ronny felt annoyed that she did not welcome Adela as pleasantly as he had wanted her to. He asked if she was unwell and she replied no.

Her ticket was interchangeable and she said that she had a broad choice of boats to return. Ronny did not want to discuss her return but she was concerned about her other children. The truth was that  she had lost interest. Even after trying Adela and Ronny could not get her interested.  She had shown no interest since the incident, asked very few questions and had kept to her own cocoon despite the fear of attack on the bungalow on the Muharram night.  Ronny thought her attitude was malicious, feeling dissatisfied at her disregard of Adela Quested.  Adela was still confused about the echo and tried to find a resolution from Mrs Moore. However, Mrs Moore cleverly evaded the answer and instead brought down the topic to the other ordinary things in life. She was planning to retire somewhere in peace after having seen there marriage and meeting her other kids.  Mrs Moore was feeling bad about the proceedings till now and it showed in her voice and attitude. Ronny grew bitter to see that and asked her to come out and handle things like she will in the witness box. His mother instead showed her distaste and said she did not want being produced at a court hearing. Adela started crying because it all was happening on her account. Ronny was adamant and did not like his mother speaking ill of the law courts. There was a brief tussle between the mother and the son. Despite trying he failed to persuade his mother. Her resentment had grown. The only reply she gave was that  she would attend their marriage but not the trial.  Her body had started failing her and the chaos around her had taken her energy away. She was trying to complain over being pulled into as many thing while no one was considering her situation but Ronny thought she wanted to be left out of everything. She was being an outsider. All this made Adela cry and Ronny resented having brought his mother.

Adela was now thinking if she had made a mistake in Aziz’s case.  This made shivers run through Ronny’s body. Aziz was evil and this notion was in every Britisher’s mind. He tried to convince Adela to take rest but as the echo in her mind was growing better she had started thinking clearly.   Adela was feeling disturbed by Mrs Moore’s reaction and Ronny’s sweet talk was not amusing her any bit.   She knew Mrs Moore believed Aziz was innocent and Adela was not doing the right thing. Adela did not want to be hated. Ronny thought it was an illusion but Adela was not ready to believe him. However, he clarified that  it was not his mother but Fielding’s letter that  said so and she must not bother herself over it. This lessened her confusion a bit and lifted her spirits.

Ronny felt good and tried to convince her that she did not mention Aziz again for every servant he had was a spy. Mrs Moore came and sat on the card table. Ronny asked her if she had mentioned Aziz to convince Adela and his mother gave a confused look. However, on being asked again she shot back that he was indeed innocent. Neither Adela and nor Mrs Moore were feeling good about themselves and Adela tried to support her. Ronny felt the game getting out of his hand and tried to bring things to normal by speaking in Aziz’s favour. He said if they had any evidence in his favour they could bring it to the court. They must be impartial. He could not afford to lose the sympathy of both women by his insensitivity. However, since the machinery had started the case could not be withdrawn. He thought it fine to follow the other trajectory where least damage was done to the English psychology.  His mother was being harmful and so she must sail at once. He started checking the list of steamships. Forster again shows how much evil is contained inside the English mindset.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.