A Passage to India

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An elderly Englishwoman who is Ronny, Ralph, and Stella’s mother. She travels to India with Adela and is intrigued by the country. Mrs. Moore meets Aziz and feels an instant connection, and they become friends. Mrs. Moore is almost a mystical figure, associated with Hinduism and spirituality. She is disturbed by the echoes in the Marabar Caves, and later grows irritable, depressed, and apathetic about all life. She goes back to England early but dies on the journey. Her memory is so beloved that she is turned into a sort of Hindu demi-god, “Esmiss Esmoor,” by some of the Indians in Chandrapore.

Mrs. Moore Quotes in A Passage to India

The A Passage to India quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Moore or refer to Mrs. Moore. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich edition of A Passage to India published in 1984.
Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

“You understand me, you know what others feel. Oh, if others resembled you!”
Rather surprised, she replied: “I don’t think I understand people very well. I only know whether I like or dislike them.”
“Then you are an Oriental.”

Related Characters: Dr. Aziz (speaker), Mrs. Moore (speaker)
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Forster sets in motion the cultural politics that drive the entire novel. Mrs. Moore, an elderly visitor from England, has come to India. In this scene she steps into a mosque at night, and makes the accidental acquaintance of a young Indian man named Dr. Aziz. Aziz and Mrs. Moore feel an immediate connection. Interestingly, their connection flowers when Mrs. Moore admits that she doesn't feel like she belongs among her English friends: she says that she judges people instinctively and automatically. Aziz claims that doing so makes Moore "an Oriental."

What's going on here? Aziz's pronouncement suggests that there's a fundamental difference between English and Eastern cultures: the English are analytical and reasonable, while the Indians are instinctive, imaginative, and receptive to their own "guts." Of course, one could argue that such a distinction is just Forster's own biased opinion: Aziz's pronouncement sounds more like what a English person would think about the Indians that what an Indian person might say about himself. The word "Oriental," which has come to be rather offensive in the century since Forster's death, adds another layer to the passage's potential bias.

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Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

“You’re superior to them, anyway. Don’t forget that. You’re superior to every one in India except one or two of the Ranis, and they’re on an equality.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Turton (speaker), Adela Quested, Mrs. Moore
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

The racism of the English towards the Indians--indeed, towards all non-English people--is clear in this passage. At a party, Mr. Turton, the political officer of the area in which the novel is set, has invited some Indian and English guests. Mrs. Turton, his wife, shows her guests Adela and Mrs. Moore through the party, noting that some Indian women are there. Turton assures Adela that she's superior to the Indians.

Why is Mrs. Turton so sure that Adela is "superior?" It's safe to assume that Mrs. Turton believes that nearly all Englishwomen are superior to the Indian people--because the English themselves are better than the Indians. Mrs. Turton embodies the worst kind of racism of the English people--a form of racism that can actually come across as a form of politeness in some situations. (Here, for instance, Mrs. Turton is complimenting her guests; it's just that her compliment hinges on certain offensive premises.) While Forster shows how the English men actually wield the power of colonialism and can make destructive decisions that affect multitudes of people, he generally portrays the English women as even worse in their casual racism--and Mrs. Turton is a prime example of this.

I’m going to argue, and indeed dictate,” she said, clinking her rings. “The English are out here to be pleasant.”
“How do you make that out, mother?” he asked, speaking gently again, for he was ashamed of his irritability.
“Because India is part of the earth. And God has put us on earth in order to be pleasant to each other. God… is… love.” She hesitated, seeing how much he disliked the argument, but something made her go on. “God has put us on earth to love our neighbors and to show it, and he is omnipresent, even in India, to see how we are succeeding.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Moore (speaker), Ronny Heaslop (speaker)
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mrs. Moore suggests that she's one of the most tolerant and open-minded English people in the novel. Mrs. Moore is upset by what she sees as her peers' racism and cruelty to their Indian neighbors. Moore, still a Christian at this point, insists that English people owe it to themselves and their faith to be polite and loving to all people, Indian and otherwise.

Mrs. Moore's tolerance and ideas of universal unity come as welcome alternatives to the other guests' racism. And yet her form of tolerance is essentially a-cultural--she sees the world in pleasant yet bland terms of love, acceptance, and friendship; at this point she seems to have no real knowledge of India.

Part 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

“I do so hate mysteries,” Adela announced.
“We English do.”
“I dislike them not because I’m English, but from my own personal point of view,” she corrected.
“I like mysteries but I rather dislike muddles,” said Mrs. Moore.
“A mystery is a muddle.”
“Oh, do you think so, Mr. Fielding?”
“A mystery is only a high-sounding term for a muddle. No advantage in stirring it up, in either case. Aziz and I know well that India’s a muddle.”

Related Characters: Cyril Fielding (speaker), Adela Quested (speaker), Mrs. Moore (speaker)
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

In this famous passage, the characters discuss the differences between mysteries and muddles as it applies to the Indian world. Mrs. Moore seems to think of India as a mystery--that is to say, a problem with a potential solution, or something chaotic and confusing but with an underlying meaning to it. Fielding and Aziz (and often Forster himself) see India as more of a "muddle"--something chaotic and confusing but without an underlying meaning. This idea of the nature of the unknown as either mystery or muddle is crucial to the book, both in its "ethnographic" aspect (how to define and describe a place as vast and diverse as India) and in its dealings with spirituality, psychology, and the human experience.

Part 2, Chapter 22 Quotes

“Why can’t this be done and that be done in my way and they be done and I at peace? Why has anything to be done, I cannot see. Why all this marriage, marriage?... The human race would have become a single person centuries ago if marriage was any use. And all this rubbish about love, love in a church, love in a cave, as if there is the least difference, and I held up from my business over such trifles!”

Related Characters: Mrs. Moore (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Marabar Caves
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Moore has become irritable and disaffected after her experience in the Marabar Caves. She has seemingly lost her Christian faith, but also the belief that there is any real meaning to anything at all--life is a "muddle," not a mystery, and is a hellish sort of muddle at that.

Here Mrs. Moore suggests that love in a church (Ronny and Adela's future marriage) is no different from love in a cave (Adela's assault at the Marabar)--because no thing is really different from any other thing. This is the dark, terrifying side of Forster's theme of "universal unity." Unity can mean love and togetherness, but it can also mean chaos and fear, a state in which "civilized," consensual love is no different from a sexual assault in the darkness. While Mrs. Moore started the novel as an optimistic figure, an example of an Englishwoman who respected Indians and seemed to understand something crucial about India itself, her descent into apathy and disaffection shows just how difficult it is to remain hopeful and connected in the face of the realities of life.

Part 3, Chapter 33 Quotes

Thus Godbole, though she was not important to him, remembered an old woman he had met in Chandrapore days. Chance brought her into his mind while it was in this heated state, he did not select her, she happened to occur among the throng of soliciting images, a tiny splinter, and he impelled her by his spiritual force to that place where completeness can be found. Completeness, not reconstruction. His sense grew thinner, he remembered a wasp seen he forgot where, perhaps on a stone. He loved the wasp equally, he impelled it likewise, he was imitating God. And the stone where the wasp clung – could he… no, he could not, he had been wrong to attempt the stone…

Related Characters: Mrs. Moore, Professor Godbole
Related Symbols: Wasps
Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, years after Aziz's trial, we see Professor Godbole as he contemplates the order of the universe in his Hindu theology. Godbole thinks of religion as a promise of unity and Heaven for all beings, from Mrs. Moore to the tiniest wasp. Godbole's vision of the universe could be considered utopian or universalist--every being, no matter what, has the opportunity to achieve glory, because every being has some intrinsic beauty and wonder. His sudden memory of Mrs. Moore at this moment also reinforces her as a kind spiritual being associated with Hinduism and universal unity--Godbole, the other character most associated with these ideas, shares a subconscious connection to Mrs. Moore, even though they barely met.

And yet there's a limit even to Godbole's vision of the world--he can't quite bring himself to embrace everything in his utopia. He is willing to accept a wasp--which appears again as a symbol for the "lowest" of the animal world--but not the stone that the wasp clings to. This is subtly compared to the earlier description of the openminded Christian Mr. Sorley, who was willing to accept monkeys into Heaven, but not wasps. (And the connection of the wasp to Mrs. Moore also recalls her introduction to the novel, in which she watched a wasp and tried to love it.)

One could thus argue that all systems of thought, in order to remain coherent, must exclude something, whether it's certain species, certain objects, certain ideologies, certain races, certain genders, etc. There is no total unity, even for a Hindi: an idea that will be important as we come to the novel's partially, but not totally, happy ending.

Part 3, Chapter 36 Quotes

“Can you always tell whether a stranger is your friend?”
“Yes.”
“Then you are an Oriental.” He unclasped as he spoke, with a little shudder. Those words – he had said them to Mrs. Moore in the mosque in the beginning of the cycle, from which, after so much suffering, he had got free. Never to be friends with the English! Mosque, caves, mosque, caves.

Related Characters: Dr. Aziz (speaker), Ralph Moore (speaker), Mrs. Moore
Related Symbols: The Marabar Caves
Page Number: 349
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Aziz encounters with Ralph Moore, the son of Mrs. Moore. Aziz points out that Ralph is an "Oriental" because he has a natural gift for telling which people are going to be his friends. Aziz then realizes that he said these exact words to Mrs. Moore, years ago--setting in motion a series of events that led up to his being accused of assault in the Marabar Caves. Aziz has the idea that he's been locked in an eternal cycle of friendship (with an English person), followed by disillusionment. He has tried to avoid this by staying away from the English altogether, but now his past has returned, and Aziz feels another inexplicable bond to another Moore. Thus the passage is suspenseful; will Aziz give into his natural friendship with Ralph, and again embrace the possibility of connecting with an Englishman, or will he back away, frightened that accepting Ralph (and Fielding) will only lead to another ugly incident?

“Yes, your mother was my best friend in all the world.” He was silent, puzzled by his own great gratitude. What did this eternal goodness of Mrs. Moore amount to? To nothing, if brought to the test of thought. She had not borne witness in his favour, nor visited him in the prison, yet she had stolen to the depth of his heart, and he always adored her.

Related Characters: Dr. Aziz (speaker), Mrs. Moore, Ralph Moore
Page Number: 350
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Aziz tells Ralph the truth about Mrs. Moore--he adored her, and continues to idealize in his mind. Aziz himself admits that Mrs. Moore never did anything concrete for Aziz, but she projected calmness, kindness, and understanding, which Aziz always responded to with joy and appreciation. It's not clear if Moore really deserves Aziz's appreciation--there are even some signs that she doesn't at all. (She left India instead of testifying at the trial; she never visited him in prison, etc.) And yet Aziz--an Eastern man (as Forster describes it) through and through--doesn't have much conscious control over who he likes and doesn't like. Instead of basing his feelings for Moore on concrete action, he feels an immediate, instinctual liking and empathy for her, which he is unable to reverse--and this feeling is arguably more powerful and lasting than other kinds of friendships (for example, Aziz's faded friendship with Fielding).

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Mrs. Moore Character Timeline in A Passage to India

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Moore appears in A Passage to India. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
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...“God is here.” Aziz is surprised and impressed by her humility. She introduces herself as Mrs. Moore , and when she steps into the light he sees that she is old. (full context)
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Aziz offers Mrs. Moore his friendship and service to make up for scolding her. He can tell that she... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore reveals that her first husband died, and Aziz says that he is in a similar... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore brushes aside Aziz’s compliments about her understanding, saying that she doesn’t understand people well –... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
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Mrs. Moore enters the club, where the play Cousin Kate is in its third act. The play... (full context)
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Adela and Mrs. Moore are both slightly disappointed by their visit so far, as they have mostly stayed in... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore goes outside and feels a sudden sense of unity with the moon and stars. She,... (full context)
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...He uses phrases he has learned from his superiors to discuss Indians, and he interprets Mrs. Moore ’s words to sound like Aziz was being insubordinate. Mrs. Moore scolds her son, saying... (full context)
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Ronny feels obligated to tell Major Callendar about Aziz being impudent, but Mrs. Moore makes him promise not to. In exchange Ronny asks his mother to not tell Adela... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore goes into her bedroom, and as she hangs up her cloak she sees that there... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Colonialism Theme Icon
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...together on one side of the tennis lawn, while the English stand at the other. Mrs. Moore and Adela watch the segregation sadly. Mrs. Turton and Ronny discuss the guests, saying that... (full context)
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...kind of art is considered “bad form” to the “Public School attitude” of the expatriates. Mrs. Moore notices how bland and conventional Ronny’s opinions have become. Years earlier he had hated Cousin... (full context)
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...various self-serving reasons why each has come to the party. Mrs. Turton takes Adela and Mrs. Moore to visit the Indian women. Mrs. Turton assures the two that they are “superior to... (full context)
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...are too polite and shy to be drawn in. As they are about to leave, Mrs. Moore impulsively asks one of the women, Mrs. Bhattacharya, if she and Adela can visit her... (full context)
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...stays on the Indian side of the lawn to eat. He hears about Adela and Mrs. Moore ’s friendliness to the Indians and is pleased by it. (full context)
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...finds Adela and tells her that the Indians appreciated her kindness. He invites Adela and Mrs. Moore to tea, and Adela gladly accepts. She says that the whole “Bridge Party” has made... (full context)
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After the party Adela, Ronny, and Mrs. Moore go to dinner with Miss Derek (an English employee of a local Indian ruler) and... (full context)
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After the guests leave and Adela goes to bed, Ronny asks Mrs. Moore about Adela. Mrs. Moore says they’ve mostly just talked about India, and she suggests that... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore says that Adela feels that the English are not pleasant to the Indians. Ronny dismisses... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore disagrees with Ronny, saying that the English are in India to be pleasant to the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
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Fielding tells Aziz that Mrs. Moore and Adela are coming to tea as well, and Aziz remembers his encounter with Mrs.... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore and Adela arrive and Aziz is pleased to find that he is still able to... (full context)
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Adela pronounces the situation a mystery, and says “I do so hate mysteries.” Mrs. Moore says that she likes mysteries, but dislikes “muddles.” Fielding responds that all of India is... (full context)
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...basically told strangers that she won’t marry Ronny, without discussing it with Ronny himself first. Mrs. Moore seems flustered, probably by Adela’s admission. (full context)
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Mrs. Moore asks to see the college grounds, and Fielding takes her for a tour. Aziz, Adela,... (full context)
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Ronny suddenly arrives, hoping to take Adela and Mrs. Moore to a polo match at the English club. He ignores the Indians and speaks only... (full context)
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...Krishna to multiply himself and come to everyone at once, but the god still refuses. Mrs. Moore asks if Krishna ever comes in another song, but Godbole explains that the god never... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
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Mrs. Moore asks to be dropped off at the bungalow, and Adela asks to go along, suddenly... (full context)
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...green bird or the hairy animal, she was labelled now.” They go inside and tell Mrs. Moore about their decision. Mrs. Moore feels that her job is done now, and she is... (full context)
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...that the British are necessary in India. Ronny and Adela describe their car accident to Mrs. Moore , who shivers and says that they must have hit “a ghost.” Afterward Ronny goes... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
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Aziz goes through a great amount of trouble inviting Mrs. Moore , Adela, Fielding, and Professor Godbole – as he wants to recreate the company of... (full context)
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...and some servants spend the night at the train station to keep from being late. Mrs. Moore , Adela, and their servant Antony arrive first. Antony is arrogant and sneering, and stands... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore reassures Aziz, saying that “we shall all be Moslems together now,” and Aziz is overcome... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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Two weeks have passed since Godbole sang his strange Hindu song, and Adela and Mrs. Moore feel like they’re living “inside cocoons,” unable to feel any strong emotion whatsoever. Mrs. Moore... (full context)
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As the train ride continues, Adela talks with Mrs. Moore about her future plans, and considers firing her rude servant, Antony. Adela discusses the hot... (full context)
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Adela keeps discussing her plans until she notices that Mrs. Moore has fallen asleep. Mrs. Moore has not been feeling well, and probably isn’t healthy enough... (full context)
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...to go past the hills, but then it stops next to an elephant. Adela and Mrs. Moore pretend to be enthusiastic about this surprise, and Aziz is proud and greatly relieved, for... (full context)
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The elephant reaches the Marabar Hills and stops at Kawa Dol. Mrs. Moore and Adela are somewhat disappointed by the area, and Aziz doesn’t know the area or... (full context)
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...is a success so far, and he grows emotional with thoughts of hospitality. He considers Mrs. Moore (and the absent Fielding) his closest friends, and is proud to have earned their friendship.... (full context)
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...villagers who have followed along enter as well, and the cave becomes crowded and airless. Mrs. Moore feels faint, and when something strikes her face she starts to panic. She is also... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore finds her way out of the cave and the rest of the group follows. She... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore rests and tries to write a letter to Stella and Ralph, her other children back... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
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...that something has gone wrong, and guesses that Adela has requested to drive back immediately. Mrs. Moore is sulky and argumentative, but she and Fielding try to bond over their fondness for... (full context)
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...the women for ruining Aziz’s picnic, and questions Aziz about the details of what happened. Mrs. Moore is vaguely angry at Fielding, but is too apathetic to feel much. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 20
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...to the train. He goes on, saying that Aziz also paid the villagers to smother Mrs. Moore in the cave. Callendar ends his speech by advocating that troops be called in. (full context)
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Turton welcomes Ronny and inquires about Mrs. Moore ’s health. The drunk soldier calls out Fielding’s rudeness in staying seated, calling him a... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 22
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...the whole incident soon, but then she breaks down the next moment. She longs for Mrs. Moore to visit her, but learns that the old lady is ill as well. Without Mrs.... (full context)
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...and Mrs. McBryde, and Ronny drives her to his bungalow. Adela is excited to see Mrs. Moore , but Ronny warns Adela that she is “irritable.” When they enter Mrs. Moore is... (full context)
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Adela asks Mrs. Moore to explain the echo, but Mrs. Moore refuses to clarify. She predicts that Adela will... (full context)
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Ronny chides his mother, saying that she is being very unhelpful, but Mrs. Moore goes on to complain about her aged body and how sick she is of marriage.... (full context)
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Ronny assures her that she is just tired and upset, but Adela thinks she heard Mrs. Moore say “Doctor Aziz never did it” before she left the room. Ronny tells her that... (full context)
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Mrs. Moore returns, sits down, and starts to play patience. Ronny asks her if she had mentioned... (full context)
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...however, when she realizes how much trouble and confusion it would cause for everyone else. Mrs. Moore declares that “she has started the machinery; it will work to its end,” and Adela... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 23
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...province’s lieutenant-governor, learns of the trouble in Chandrapore and offers to help Ronny by letting Mrs. Moore travel back to England with her in her cabin, as all the boats are full.... (full context)
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Though Mrs. Moore gets everything she wished for—an escape from the trial and the marriage, and a trip... (full context)
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This view of the universe as petty and selfish has left Mrs. Moore feeling selfish and irritable herself, to the point where she is even jealous of all... (full context)
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Ronny is unable to escort Mrs. Moore to Bombay and no one from Chandrapore comes along either, so she is untroubled by... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 24
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The hot season arrives in full force soon after Mrs. Moore ’s departure, and everyone hides inside, avoiding the sun. The narrator claims that beautiful myths... (full context)
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After Mrs. Moore left, Adela has been staying with the Turtons, who have been very kind to her,... (full context)
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...claim that they are so important and civilized. She wishes she could discuss this with Mrs. Moore . (full context)
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...As an example of this, McBryde brings up his claim that Aziz tried to smother Mrs. Moore to death in a cave. (full context)
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...and an enraged Mahmoud Ali objects that this accusation is out of line, especially since Mrs. Moore has been “smuggled” out of the country and can’t speak for herself. Mahmoud Ali claims... (full context)
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Meanwhile the crowd outside hears the name “ Mrs. Moore ” and starts to repeat as if it is a charm, even those who don’t... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 26
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...the subject of ghosts, which Fielding sharply says he doesn’t believe in. Adela says that Mrs. Moore does, and she respects Mrs. Moore very much. Fielding apologizes, and also apologizes for being... (full context)
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When Fielding returns to fetch Adela, he says that Mrs. Moore has died at sea on the voyage to England. Hamidullah says that this is Ronny’s... (full context)
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...him. Adela then comes back inside, much to Hamidullah’s dismay. She is very upset about Mrs. Moore ’s death, and calls her “my best friend.” She says that she cannot stand to... (full context)
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Ronny comes in with Adela, looking awkward. Hamidullah is rude to him, questioning him about Mrs. Moore ’s death, though Fielding is very polite. Ronny and Fielding decide on the details of... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 27
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...“can’t put up with.” After a long silence Aziz says that he will consult with Mrs. Moore , and then do whatever she advises regarding Adela. He praises Mrs. Moore extravagantly, again... (full context)
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...points out that Aziz’s emotions are not “in proportion to their objects”—Aziz praises and loves Mrs. Moore , who never really did anything tangible to help him, but he hates Adela, who... (full context)
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...and more strong-willed, and he presses on in the conversation, wanting to talk more about Mrs. Moore . Finally Fielding cannot put up with the lie anymore, and he tells Aziz that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 28
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The narrator explains the circumstances of Mrs. Moore ’s death—she was buried at sea, even farther south than where the ship left from.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 29
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Fielding finally starts bringing up Mrs. Moore to shame Aziz about Adela. Aziz was very upset when he learned of Mrs. Moore’s... (full context)
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Adela says that only Mrs. Moore knew what really happened, though she doesn’t know how. Adela suggests “telepathy,” but the word... (full context)
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...but instead say farewell and promise to write each other. They mention the tragedy of Mrs. Moore ’s death again, but both decide not to dwell on death too much, as they... (full context)
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Ten days later Adela leaves for England, following Mrs. Moore ’s route. The servant Antony accompanies her and starts a rumor among the boat’s passengers... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 33
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...universe. Godbole briefly returns to the present to straighten his glasses, and he randomly remembers Mrs. Moore at that moment, including her in the endless images of things that make up the... (full context)
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...there be “fun in heaven.” Godbole recovers from his holy ecstasy and thinks again of Mrs. Moore and the wasp, feeling a kinship to the old woman. He tries to place himself... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 35
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...brother-in-law as “Mr. Quested.” Fielding is shocked, for he didn’t marry Adela, but instead married Mrs. Moore ’s daughter Stella. The brother-in-law is Ralph Moore. Fielding realizes that this is the cause... (full context)
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...be his friend. He returns home, feeling moved and excited, especially by the mention of Mrs. Moore ’s name. Aziz feels as if her spirit has returned to help him. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 36
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...you are an Oriental.” Aziz shivers then, recalling that he said those exact words to Mrs. Moore in the mosque years earlier. Aziz worries that he is going to be caught in... (full context)
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Aziz says that Ralph is Mrs. Moore ’s son, but also Ronny’s brother, and therefore “the two nations cannot be friends.” Ralph... (full context)
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...he is too overcome with emotion to resist, and he impulsively embraces the cycle for Mrs. Moore ’s sake. Once they are on the water in a boat, Aziz suddenly finds that... (full context)