Summary and Analysis of Chapter xxix from E M Forster’s A Passage to India (Part 2 Caves)
Chapter XXIX: Summary and Analysis
Lieutenant Governor’s visit to Chandrapore had not changed things much except it worked to restore Fielding’s confidence to some extent. Fielding’s repeated attempts made Aziz pardon Adela and the English gentleman had used Mrs Moore’s name cleverly to achieve this purpose. Ronny Felt grateful and so did Adela. Fielding and Adela grew closer and became better friends ad decided to meet again in England. Adela leaves by the same route but not before Antony and made a small scandal about her and Fielding. However, she had decided to see Mrs Moore’s younger children after reaching England.
The next thing to happen at Chandrapore a the visit by the Lieutenant Governor. Sir Gilbert in Forster’s words held enlightened opinions though he himself was not an enlightened man. Due to a long career at the secretariat he had remained mostly exempt from a direct meeting with the natives. He held the outcome of the hearing commendable and appreciated Fielding’s stance which was according to him most sensible. He mentioned that some of the English people had mishandled the case at the Marabars who were unaware that the clocks hands move only forward referring to the childishness demonstrated by Adela and others with her. He wanted Fielding’s return to the club and instead on him to accept the invitation thaw as to be sent to him. The other things like the fine to be paid by Adela and the events at the cave did not interest him because they were local details to be minded by the local authorities. As a high level official he was expected to demonstrate wisdom and impartiality which he did and then returned to Himalayan heights satisfied.
Fielding despite trying could not help getting drawn into Adela’s affairs. He ate and slept at Hamidullah’s and the college remained closed. Adela had everything to herself and while she had been shown her limitations by the disaster, the girl’s character and humility had impressed Fielding. Instead of feeling bad about how she had been treated by both the sides, she felt that she had brought it upon herself by her stupidity. When Fielding mentioned that a better of apology might be due to Aziz she eagerly agreed and asked him to dictate one.
The letter was full of moving phrases but when they put it together, it did not impress her at all. She grew disappointed that whenever she decided to put things right, they did not come off as planned. He replied that it was happening because she had no real affection for either Aziz or Indians and this was why the letter could not be as effective as possible. The Indians were clever in this regard and knew immediately who loved them an who did not. Justice alone could not satisfy them unless for some real love. This is why the roots of the British empire were now shaken. Adela was helpless and asked if she could really like anyone. The conversation and taken a wrong turn and Fielding would avoid the mention of Ronny Heaslop at whatever cost and so he did. His Indian friends had grown aggressive following the victory. It was unlike the British who would have just felt superior in such an instance. They were in a mood to offend and had discovered many non existent wrongs to do so. The case was the same as happens in case of any war. One plans for something else and achieves something else. However, the spoils of war never last long. Sir Gilbert’s words had not brought him any satisfaction. The English gentleman was feeling clueless about English officialism. No-one, not even Mahmoud Ali had an idea, what was to be done next.
Aziz was pulling Fielding the other way which seemed like going against his conscience. He had no place among his own people but he could not be another Mohammed Latif either. Inevitably the racial difference between them was a barrier he could not lift. However, Aziz said he was just trying to reward him. This was not the reward that Fielding wanted. Aziz could have let Adela go without paying. His insensitivity about Adela made Fielding bitter. He thought she should be treated generously and one way to make them feel was appeal using Mrs Moore’s name. Aziz thought so highly of her and had wept at her death and made her children too mourn. Fielding could not succeed in the first attempt because Aziz was still feeling bad about his letters and wife’s photograph being produced at the court. He wanted revenge for the defamation and then he wanted the money to educate his kids but he started to weaken when Fielding repeatedly tried. Fielding introduced her name whenever there was a mention of the compensation and that made Aziz succumb at last. He claimed only the costs giving up the entire compensation. As he had expected it made him a bigger villain in the eyes of the English who continued to talk of it as a case spoilt because the girl could not bear the pressure. Ronny was the one to feel most relieved and wanted to thank Fielding. He told her she was returning and wanted to see him.
He reached the college and found Adela upset. Ronny had broken the engagement. She had wanted it herself but never knew where to start from. However that kind of inert life where one becomes a public nuisance would have suffocated her. She was speaking only of India. In England she was in a better position where she had friends like herself. She had enough money to start a new career. However, the trouble she had caused was making life difficult for her. She and Ronny must have never thought of getting married. Adela wanted to know if Fielding was surprised about the date when their engagement was originally announced. Fielding was not. The issue of marriage never surprised him because he had never any noble reason to attach with marriage. The two had somewhat similar experiences and none of them wanted love anymore. The talk came back to the cave and Adela suggested it might be the guide. Mrs Moore would have known. Death had made Mrs Moor acquire an extraordinary status. the two had started understanding they were similar in outlook and that gave them a kind of satisfaction. He asked Adela to write to him when she was in England. She said she will. He had been very kind to her and she wanted to do something for him but it seemed like he had everything he wanted. He too thought so. He had a way with the natives and had been praised by the LG.
So, everything was at least fine till the next earthquake. Adela started talking of Mrs Moore and that her death was troubling her. Fielding said Aziz too had grown fond of her. Death had reminded Adela of other things. See had grown pessimistic saying that all these personal relationships wee a farce meant to end at death. She said she held the not on that death selected its targets but now she believed that everyone has to die and no-one is spared. Fielding thought the girl was growing too pessimistic and that is the hurdle associated with pondering over death. This is not the way humans are expected to be. Fielding said he too had felt the temptation but then he decided that instead he must go on living rather tan be bothered with questions of death. Adela agreed she too could go on living. Forster portrays their friendship as the friendship of dwarfs who are satisfied to see someone like themselves. the two did not feel bothered by the divisions of age and sex but instead were united by a kind of sensibility and honesty. It was like they had worked together to fill an important gap in their lives. “as though the universe had displaced itself to fill up a tiny void, or as though they had seen their own gestures from an immense height—dwarfs talking,shaking hands and assuring each other that they stood on the same footing of insight”.
The two are like kids trying to show each other one’s world and when the two worlds stand together, when the insights match, it is like coming home. They have acquired a new height and everything else has grown dwarfed before their outlook. This was an entirely new but highly satisfying experience and Forster again uses pictures from nature to deliver his message. “An infinite goal behind stars”… The two had found the conclusion. It all concluded right here upon them.
The two had grown to like each other and planned to meet again. Adela eagerly said they would meet in England and ten days later she had taken the same route to England as Late Mrs Moore. However, a last episode of hardback was to follow her and she was blackmailed by Antony who had followed her to the boat. He created a scandal by calling her Fielding’s mistress. Perhaps, he was not satisfied with his tip. People noted and did not talk to her for most part of the voyage. Things altered as they approached Egypt.
Forster again portrays the beauty of nature on Egyptian shores in beautiful words. Adela descended on the shore with a missionary who asked her what she was returning to in England? He stressed he did not want to know what she was turning to but what she was returning to. He himself hardly knew the distinction between the two but was trying to appear morally superior. There stood Lesseps statue before them and he included it to clarify his point. Adela could still see some point. She knew she had to meet Mrs Moore’s other two kids and then get back to work. Mrs Moore had managed to keep the two branches separate and Adela was still to see the younger branch.