A Passage to India

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A Passage to India Part 1, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Aziz did not go to the Bridge Party. First he was distracted by surgical cases he had to attend to. Major Callendar, his superior, disrespects him because he is an Indian, though Callendar knows that Aziz is a better surgeon than he is. Callendar also is upset with Aziz for being late the night before when Callendar summoned him. He ignores Aziz’s valid excuses and accuses him of laziness. Aziz generally views the English as comic figures, and he “enjoyed being misunderstood by them,” so he decides not to be angry at Callendar.
Callendar again appears in a very negative light, and his working relationship with Aziz is an example of the potential for English corruption and prejudice. Aziz is still trying to ignore the English or laugh them off, as he has yet to experience the true face of colonialism. Aziz knows that no matter what he says or does, Callendar has already made up his mind about him. But he has found ways to not be bothered by Callendar.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
The day of the Bridge Party is the anniversary of Aziz’s wife’s death, so he decides not to go. Aziz’s marriage was an arranged one, and he had not loved his wife at first. But he fell in love with her after the birth of their first child. She then died giving birth to their third child. After her death Aziz felt that no woman could ever replace her, so he never remarried, and sometimes he becomes deeply depressed. On the anniversary of her death he takes out his wife’s picture and weeps, suddenly repulsed by the idea of mingling with the insensitive British.
Forster develops Aziz’s character more and we see his emotional, passionate nature. He mourns his wife deeply at times, but then forgets about her for long periods as well. This swell of emotion in him makes the English seem especially unattractive to him—as Aziz, like Forster, views the English as repressed and insensitive.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Aziz then borrows Hamidullah’s pony and goes riding to cheer himself up. He plays polo on the town green with an English soldier he has never met. The two men feel an immediate comradeship and they play for a while. When they depart they both think to themselves “if only they were all like that.” Aziz then returns home, and on the way he has an awkward encounter with Dr. Panna Lal, a lower-class Hindu who had planned on going to the Bridge Party with Aziz. He impolitely insists on understanding why Aziz failed to attend.
Aziz’s mood then quickly swings from despair to happiness as he plays polo. His encounter with the soldier will serve an ironic point later, but for now it shows another example of a successful (though brief) cross-cultural relationship based on kindness and mutual respect. Aziz’s awkward interaction with Lal then highlights again the tensions within India, between Indians of different class and religion.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Aziz insults Dr. Panna Lal and then leaves, feeling defiant, but by the time he reaches home he worries that he will be in trouble with the English for not attending the party. He finds a letter with a British government stamp waiting for him, and he is afraid of what it might say. He is pleased to find that it is an invitation to tea from Mr. Fielding. Aziz is especially pleased because Fielding has overlooked the fact that Aziz had forgotten another invitation from him a month earlier. Aziz is excited to meet the principal, and writes a reply accepting the invitation.
One of Aziz’s greatest flaws is his snobbery, which especially shows against Hindus and lower-class Indians. This is ironic, because snobbery is also an especially English kind of sin. Immediately after scorning Dr. Lal, Aziz is delighted to hear from Fielding, whom he automatically feels drawn to because of the Englishman’s politeness and friendliness.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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