A Passage to India

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A Passage to India Part 1, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fielding stands on the porch and prepares to leave, but the servant won’t bring him his horse. Aziz then calls Fielding back into the house. Aziz is self-deprecating about his poor, dirty home, while Fielding says little. Aziz then shows Fielding a photo of his late wife, which Aziz keeps in a locked drawer. He says that Fielding is the first Englishman to have seen her. Fielding is surprised by this sudden intimacy, and he thanks Aziz. Aziz says that he would show his wife to any man who acted like his brother, which Fielding has.
As Fielding draws away from his English peers, he grows closer to Aziz. This growing friendship between Fielding and Aziz seems like a positive answer to the question of whether Englishmen and Indians can be friends. When Aziz shares the photo of his wife, it is an act of intimacy and trust—essentially saying that Fielding is family, and so would even be able to see Aziz’s wife behind the purdah.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Aziz says that he admires Fielding because Fielding treats all men like brothers, which is beyond the character of most people. Aziz says that what India needs is kindness, and Fielding agrees – the English government began “at the wrong end,” with institutions and rulership instead of friendship and kindness. Fielding sits down and starts to feel depressed, as he cannot share in Aziz’s waves of emotion, and he has no secret to share with Aziz in return for seeing the photograph.
Yet even at the height of this intimacy between the two men there is still a cultural divide, as Fielding lacks Aziz’s “Indian” emotional spectrum. Aziz’s theory about kindness echoes Forster’s own—Aziz does not advocate an Indian revolution, but rather suggests that the British show kindness and have better personal relations with the Indians.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Fielding seems to accept that he will never be intimate with anyone, and decides that he will go on traveling through life, helping people, and then moving on. He asks Aziz what he thinks of English women, and Aziz will only say that he has heard that they’re nicer in England. Fielding agrees. Aziz asks Fielding why he is unmarried, and Fielding says that he was engaged once, but now has no desire for marriage or children.
Aziz and Fielding discuss women, but there is no heterosexual romantic love in the novel, and the pinnacle of human relations is presented as a close friendship like that between the two men. Once again the English women are portrayed as more cruel than the men.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Aziz half-jokingly suggests that Fielding should marry Adela, but Fielding is horrified by the idea, and calls her a “prig.” He says that she seems to be trying to learn about India and life as if they were lectures at school. He then feels ashamed of his outburst, and adds that Adela is engaged to Ronny Heaslop anyway. Aziz is pleased to hear of this, as he assumes it exempts him from his promised trip to the Marabar Caves. Adela will now be a “regular Anglo-Indian” with no need of Indian entertainment.
Fielding is right about Adela—she is trying to “study life” without becoming intimate with other people or allowing herself to be studied as well. Aziz invited the Englishwomen to the Marabar just like he invited them to his house—as a show of generosity and hospitality, but not intending a literal invitation. Aziz also recognizes that Adela will be “labelled” now.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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Aziz agrees that Adela is not right for Fielding, but he mostly disapproves of her for her lack of beauty. He then remembers his planned trip to Calcutta to find a prostitute. Aziz suddenly feels protective towards Fielding, and warns him to be careful in front of other Indians, as there are always spies reporting to the English. Aziz is worried that Fielding might lose his job for being too frank and saying the wrong thing.
Aziz’s sexual snobbery becomes apparent mostly in his thoughts about Adela. The planned trip to Calcutta will come back to haunt him later. Aziz recognizes the complex muddle of rumors and eavesdroppers in both the Indian and English societies of Chandrapore, but it’s ironic that he worries about how it will affect Fielding and can’t sense how it will soon envelope him.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
“Muddles” and Mysteries Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Fielding admits that his frankness has gotten him into trouble before, but he doesn’t really mind. He likes to “travel light,” which is why he doesn’t get married and have children. Aziz is amazed by this worldview, which is so different from his own, but Fielding points out the many Indian mystics who also “travel light.” Fielding says that he isn’t worried about losing his job, because his real job is Education, and he can do that anywhere.
With this mentality Fielding is very divided from his countrymen in India. He purposefully rejects the English “herd” as an arm of the British Empire. Instead he acts as an independent individual, and moreover treats the Indians as independent individuals, rather than as a mass to be governed or even to be “seen” as Adela wants to see them.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Fielding prepares to leave again, and Aziz admits to him that he had given his servant orders not to bring the horse for any Englishman. Fielding rides off. Aziz is no longer in awe of Fielding, because Fielding has nothing to hide and seems to act unwisely sometimes. Aziz confirms to himself that they are friends and brothers now. Their bond was sealed by the photograph. Aziz drifts off to sleep, dreaming of a Muslim paradise.
An important part of the two men’s friendship is that Aziz shakes off his ingrained idealization of the Englishman. Even though the British are the oppressors, everything in colonial culture points to whiteness-equaling-superiority, to the extent that even the Indians start to believe it and feel inferior.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon