Chapter XXXVII from Forster’s A Passage to India (Part 3- Temples): Summary and analysis
The last chapter begins with the two friends together. They take a ride before they part. Forster draws the final line with a final blow on the English rule and how every Indian was hating it. Aziz’s fury at the end is just a reminder that this time Indians were more determined than the English knew. It was not about his Muslim community but his motherland that Aziz grew emotional and the chapter ends with a strange partnership that meant the distance between Indians and English and grown.
Fielding and Aziz had again become friends but they knew they could meet no more. Together they went for the last ride in the jungles of Mau. With floods having abated and the Rajah declared dead officially, Fielding and party are to leave tomorrow as per the decorum. His visit had proved a failure and Godbole having promised him to show him the new school that he had started on English patterns gave him a slip as always. Fielding was disappointed with Godbole when Aziz had disclosed the reality to him saying that the school was running only in papers. It was converted into a granary and Godbole was trying to restart it. Fielding thought it was a waste of energy. However, this time he was serious about the state of education in India. He deplored the idea that most Indians were not serious about the advantages of education. However, he could not say anything very serious because Aziz’s friendliness had kept him distracted.Since the collision of the boats nothing bitter had happened and the two had returned to their old friendship once again. They rode between rocks and bushes and while the weather was fine the scene was as park like as England albeit a little queer. Aziz brought out a letter addressed to Miss Quested that he thought would help reestablish the relationship. He was happy at the courage she had shown after the Marabars and therefore his children will always remember her with respect and affection. The relationship was nearly restored.
Seeing the agreeableness in the environment Fielding proposed that Aziz talk to his wife. She too wished to talk to him. There was a part of his wife that Fielding did not understand and thought she did not love him as much as he did. However, the Mau visit had made things grow better. The brother and sister were following them on horses a little behind and Fielding wished Aziz talked about the Marabars to Ralph at least if not Stella. Aziz said that Ralph was indeed a wise boy because he had helped him be friends with Aziz again. However, it was time to wish goodbye. They had to part and the partition was inevitable. Fielding was anxious that it was his and his friend’s last meeting and in order to have a fulfilling last experience he made himself talk of his wife. Her wife’s visit had been a success and she had found fulfilment and some solution to her problems here. He asked Aziz if he knew about the Krishna business that was happening for past two days. Officially, it was known as Gokul Ashtami and was a holiday. Fielding too knew the story related to it and that Gokul and another village were like, Nazareth and Bethlehem. He wanted to know if there was a spiritual side to it.
Aziz had not been able to know Hindus any better despite having been as long with them. They could surprise you and when you hope they will hate you, they will love you and then opposite too could be true. Fielding too had not been exposed much to Hinduism except through Professor Godbole and had not grown any special liking for them. However, his wife and brother in law had grown interested in the religion and therefore he wished Aziz talked to them since he was an oriental. Aziz was not interested in Hindus, Ralph or Stella and thought that Fielding was a bit clumsy. He added a few lines more to his letter to Miss quested that he was going to connect her with a very sacred name – Mrs Moore. He started thinking of a poem about Mecca and then his wife and suddenly his mind came back to where he was. He asked Fielding to forget Krishna and come back to some more sensible business. They came back to sensible business and kept talking of politics. This was an enjoyable experience. Fielding said there was no further use for politeness meaning they could not abolish English rule because it was rude. Aziz gave a hateful glance and replied they were useless. Fielding said Indians could keep away from him. They should look at their schools and their poems. Aziz said they were quite good poems and he was being published and read in Bombay.
“And what do those poems say the free our women and India will be free. Once you have freed your women who will take care of the kids, you?” came Fielding’s reply. Aziz was now excited and rising in his stirrups he said like giving a battlecry. He asked all the Turtons and Burtons to clear out because Indians had grown wiser and would have seen them in the next world war. Their jest continued and they went past temples those of Lord Hanuman and Lord Shiva. Fielding jeered if he wanted the Japanese instead of the English. He wanted the Afghans. On the issues of the Afghans, Fielding had him cornered and Aziz had felt it. He shouted slogans for India saying all Indians will be one irrespective of class and religion. Fielding joked if the new born India will rank among Belgium and Guatemala. The mockery had its effect and Aziz’s fury grew more real. Not knowing what to do he cried down with English and if not him then his coming generations will drive them out. He will drive every blasted Englishman from this nation and furiously he half kissed Fielding telling him that they will be friends but not for now. Fielding wanted it desperately but it was not going to happen. Nothing around them wanted this union, not even the entire universe.