E M Forster’s A Passage to India : Summary and Analysis of Chapter XXIII and XXIV
Chapter XXIII Summary and Analysis
In this chapter, Forster explores how Mrs Moore has been affected by India. As she readies herself to leave the continent, she thinks over the things she missed. The effects of India were unclear. She was feeling the warmth still on her back. The echo and its effects had passed but some of the pressure had retained. Forster explores her feelings, the frightful hug of the Marabars and her jealousy for Adela. Mrs Moore’s departure marks a turning point in the novel. India was a beautiful puzzle and Mrs Moore could not stop loving it. However, she was also concerned for other things.
Lady Mellanby was feeling proud of the letter she had received from the ladies at Chandrapore. She was unable to do anything and wanted to know if she could anyhow show her sympathy. Mrs Turton asked her to help Mrs Moore get an early passage to England. Lady Mellanby was ready to offer a seat in her own cabin. Ronny felt grateful. He was growing famous and after poor Adela, his mother had helped him achieve this fame. She did not appear as weak a figure any more. She had attracted attention from a high level official’s wife and that had satisfied Ronny.
Mrs Moore had grown bored and there was nothing better than to find a quick escape from India. She had escaped every trouble. From the trial to the marriage, she had escaped it all. The best thing was the echo will no more chase her once she was out of India. She was not so enthusiastic but there was nothing better for her at this moment. Forster presents India as a beautiful Talisman where every soul finds fulfilment and wisdom.
She had arrived in India which was too mysterious and majestic for her. Forster outlines its complex beauty and shows how no soul has found it possible to escape this beauty. When Mrs Moore had arrived she found India easy and simple. Little did she know that the beauty of the Indian nation had hidden as much complexity under its shawl. Little did she understand that the things she mistook as just simple and beautiful could turn her inside out. By the time she could catch the Indian wind, her mind had completely lost control. The echo was chasing her and afraid she knew just one way out – back to England.
The caves had emptied her and she was thinking over what thing had talked to her inside the cave. It was something outside the bounds of her logic. Far from the time space continuum, this voice had spoken to her soul and now she was trying to find reason and music in it. The echo had spoken to her soul and left her questioning her senses. She had met the soul of the earth. On the other hand, Adela was making her feel jealous. Her horror and sorrow were bigger than the others’. She wanted attention but could not accept it.
Rony was unable to escort his mother to Bombay because of the poor situation at Chandrapore. Antony was not with her and no one else who could have reminded her of the past and its tensions. She was feeling relieved as she left. The train had taken her through Central India to Asirgarh. No one had ever mentioned its name to her before and she found its look pleasant. The train was going around Asirgarh where she could look at its fortress and the little mosque beside it. As the train descended through the Vindhyas, it moved in a semicircle around Asirgarh. She was feeling harassed and so wanted to not cast a glance at the things she hated for bringing past to her mind. These things did not vanish. She woke up startled in the midnight and then again at dawn in Bombay. She was briefly reminded of all the magnificent places she had missed and longed to stop at Bombay. India was an entangle; a puzzle she had failed to solve and now longed for looking back. It was laughing at her back and as she moved on, the steamer took her around Colaba. Lady Mellanby came to her and told her that they were safely out of the frying pan.
Chapter XXIV – Summary and Analysis
This chapter begins with a description of the uncontrollable heat in India and takes it to the courtroom drama. Adela is indecisive and still feels troubled by the bothersome echo. She has regained her strength. Fielding’s presence among the natives continues to bother the English who try to vent their frustration by calling him Japanese spy. However, the drama that unfolds at the court leaves the English feeling humiliated. Adela after being through a cross examination withdraws her charges against Aziz and the English have to leave feeling defeated. Aziz is proved innocent and Forster proves that the English would go to any extent to protect their fake pride.
“Making sudden changes of gear, heat accelerated its advance..” As soon as Mrs Moore had departed from India, heat started rising. Mercury had risen past 112. Every attempt to beat the heat including fans and ice was falling. The earth had grown dry and dust was everywhere in the air. The fish manage it better than the human. As soon as it is muddy, they wriggle into the mud and then wait for the rains to come again. Men try to find harmony throughout the year. However, attempts to manipulate nature can result in a disaster. Heat had brought the machinery of human civilisation to a halt. At such times it seems there is little difference in the destiny of the English and their predecessors. Their predecessors came to India with an intent to change it but got fashioned in its pattern.
Adela was feeling a bit traumatised. She had not missed her morning prayers despite her years of intellectualism. Moreover, it was the easiest method to access the unseen. Nobody else could relieve her of her troubles. And just like the Hindu clerks pray Goddess Lakshmi for a pay increase she prayed for a favourable verdict. She expected God will support her. However, heat was having its effect and it seemed like she was inhaling and exhaling the same air. Mrs Turton called from the next room if she was ready.
The Turtons had been very kind to her since Mrs Moore left. However, it was because she was an English victim and therefore anything they could do was less for her. No-one had any idea what was going on inside her mind except Ronny. However, his officialism was the biggest barrier to a trustful relationship between the two. She was still confused over whether she loved him or if she was capable of loving anyone. Since she entered the caves, the question had been haunting her. Mrs Turton tried to hurry her when Ronny replied she was praying. Adela asked for brandy as she was feeling very feeble. Mr McBryde had helped her get ready for the hearing and how to exaggerate her case. Her aim was to make it as appalling a possible. However, the echo had returned and chances were that she would break when cross examined by Amrit Rao.
No consoling was of any help while both Ronny and the Turtons tried. Ronny was sure she would win however, there was bound to be an appeal and then there was Nawab Bahadur supporting Dr Aziz and party. The Collector had grown irritated and they all left for the court in the car. He thought that the English women made everything difficult or it was easier to control the natives. This thought had emanated in relationship to his mother, Adela and the other ladies like Mrs Turton who was willing to make every fuss over the case. Some students had gathered in front of the court and had Ronny been alone, he would have liked to face them. They went around to the rear of the building. Rafi hiding from inside the crowd of students called out that the English were cowards.
As they went to Ronny’s private room, they got to know so much had changed. Sweepers had gone on strike; some Muslim ladies were on hunger strike and Fielding was being held liable by the white people there for all this including the students’ gathering. He had been seen with Amrit Rao and Mahmoud Ali and the English were trying to vent their frustration by calling him a Japanese spy. Adela was trying to retain her strength and when the others in the room noticed her they felt ashamed of making so much noise. Ronny was keeping old Das under pressure. If he acquitted, he would lose his job. He was feeling good about it that it was an Indian judging the case. It will double the damage since conviction was certain. Adela had become secondary to all this in his mind.
Mrs Turton was now getting vocal of her hatred for the natives. She felt that English had been treating them with all too much leniency. They must not be spoken to or allowed to the Bridge parties. The hearing began and they all moved to the court. They moved into the room like a procession and Ronny made an official joke at which the officers chuckled but which the Indians disliked. The first person that Adela noticed in the court room was a poor and humble fan puller. Almost naked, he had a splendid build. Forster is building the background to introduce how Adela’s physical appearance made her feel under-confident. The trial had started while Adela was thinking of Mrs Moore.
The hearing began with Mcbryde’s testimony. He was not in a mood to go in details and so started with how the convict was man of loose character as the pictures found in his possession and the letter showed. He knew that the man was going to be convicted and so there was little use laying stress on any of the facts. McBryde also cited Panna Lai, Aziz’s fellow assistant and that Aziz was physically attracted towards Adela and so he planned the picnic. As soon as he mentioned physically attracted, someone from the crowd shouted that Adela was uglier than Aziz. The man was turned out or someone else in his place but the comment had made Adela tremble. She was feeling awful and was proposed to take a seat on the platform beside the judge where she could get more air. Some chairs were shifted there and the entire party moved to the platform. It appeared like the English had taken charge of the trial. Prosecution began again and Fielding was the only European left seated among the audience.
Adela cast a glance at the people before him and many of them were the Indians she had seen at the bridge party or known slightly. Then she saw Aziz who was seated without any air of sin around him. It made Adela think again whether she had made a mistake. The question had stopped bothering her since Mrs Moore left but crept back in her mind once again. The opposition objected to the presence of so many people on the platform besides Adela. Mr Das affirmed hesitatingly and the English along with Ronny had to move down. Mahmoud Ali further objected to the special chairs placed for the English. The humiliation of the British had cheered the Indians up. Fielding was seated among the audience with a native child in his lap and in full sight of Adela. Mr Das was trying to look impartial and the Superintendent dealt in detail over the happenings of the Marabar party. There was some confusion over whether the caves were Buddhist caves or Jain caves. Then the discussion shifted to the evidence, the field glasses that were found in Aziz’s pocket. He was accused of leading a double life and of trying to strangle Mrs Moore in order to execute his plan.
As soon as the name of Mrs Moore cropped up, Mahmoud Ali grew agitated. he remarked that had Mrs Moore been there she would have saved Aziz. The English had kept her for too long and then silently smuggled her out of the country. Everyone was talking of Mrs Moore (Indians calling her Esmiss Esmoor). Mahmoud Ali Walked out of the trial feeling agitated and AmritRao took charge. He too stressed that the presence of Mrs Moore was important for the trial but the magistrate suggested that both parties should stop obsessing over the name of Mrs Moore. The Superintendent at once withdrew his reference. Peace was restored in the court.
Adela was still indecisive and was thinking of what had really happened at the cave. The entire issue was connected to her love and marriage because she was thinking of them before entering the cave. Might be it was her mention of marriage that had roused the evil inside Aziz. She was aware of her personal failure and dreaded something might pour out if they tried to dig deeper during the cross examination. However, she felt protected because her own voice got her rid of every fear. She recounted the entire expedition and how they were led by Aziz to the caves. When the question came that whether she was alone inside the cave or she believed he had followed her she paused. She asked for more time before she could answer it. Having scanned her memory for signs of Aziz inside the caves she said she was not quite sure. People were startled and the Superintendent was struck. He tried to suggest that she speak that Aziz had followed her but then Adela cleared her mind and said no he had not.
The magistrate grew eager and asked her to speak clearly upon which she said she had made a mistake; Aziz had never followed her. When her mind tried to connect the dots, Aziz was on the other side of the picture. Major thought she was sick and tried to stop the trial on medical grounds but no she was not. The magistrate grew even eager and asked if she was willing to withdraw; she affirmed. The Superintendent was shocked but was stopped by the magistrate from laying any pressure on the victim. Due to Adela’s withdrawal and the magistrate’s eagerness pressure built on the English side. Mrs Turton grew out of control and started shouting at Adela and slapped Ronny.
Mr Das, the presiding magistrate felt relaxed. A catastrophe had somehow been prevented. The English were feeling defeated and the Indians had grown passionate. Aziz had fainted. Das announced the release of the prisoner without a single stain on his personal character. The scene had cleared and only one person that remained was the half naked God still pulling the fan who was hardly aware of the day’s events and their importance.