A Passage to India

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A Passage to India Part 2, Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mr. McBryde, the superintendent of police in Chandrapore, is more educated and open-minded than his colleagues, and he is polite and reassuring to Aziz when he arrives at the jail. Aziz is weeping, and McBryde is surprised at the doctor’s sudden downfall, but he has a theory that the Indians are “criminals at heart” because of the hot climate, so their behavior isn’t really their fault. McBryde is a contradiction of his own theory, however, because he was born in India.
McBryde’s pet theories are an example of the kind of pseudoscience and stereotype that allow racism to persist. Further, these theories are illogical and based on evidence that only makes sense to someone who already has an ingrained feeling of superiority. McBryde will later be caught in an immoral act, further invalidating his idea that only the Indians are “criminals at heart.”
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Fielding arrives and McBryde gives him all the details of the case. Adela claimed that Aziz followed her into a cave and “made insulting advances.” She hit him with her field glasses, and he broke the strap, allowing her to flee. McBryde produces the broken glasses, stating that they were found in Aziz’s pocket. Fielding despairs, as the evidence against Aziz seems damning. McBryde says that Adela was also frightened by an echo in one of the Marabar Caves.
McBryde is generally more open-minded than most of the Anglo-Indians, but he too rallies to the banner of the English’s righteous anger. Adela had clearly mentioned the cave’s echo, implying that she had a similar experience of horror to Mrs. Moore, but Adela’s came as an assault, whether imagined or not.
Themes
“Muddles” and Mysteries Theme Icon
Division vs. Unity Theme Icon
McBryde says that Miss Derek has also given her account – she was looking for the picnic spot when she saw Adela running down the side of the steep hill of Kawa Dol, alone. Miss Derek found her “flinging herself about” in some cactuses, and helped her to the car. Adela was terrified of the Indian driver, which alerted Miss Derek to the nature of the problem.
McBryde and Miss Derek both appear as immediate supports for Adela against Aziz. Ironically these two are later caught having an affair with each other—an example of what Forster calls the Englishman’s “demon” of hypocrisy. But hypocrisy is almost inevitable when one sets oneself up as righteous and superior.
Themes
“Muddles” and Mysteries Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
Fielding asks to see Adela, but McBryde says she is too upset and sick. Fielding states his theory that Adela is somehow deluded and Aziz is innocent, and McBryde is surprised. Fielding comments that it seems unlikely that Aziz would pocket the field glasses after trying to assault Adela, but McBryde assures him that Indian criminals have different psychology from English criminals. McBryde says that Aziz is far from innocent – he has gone through the letters in Aziz’s bag and found one from a brothel in Calcutta. Fielding says that he himself visited brothels when he was young, and though McBryde did too, he doesn’t admit it.
Once again Fielding goes against the English grain by seeing things practically and naming them for what they are. The English avoid speaking directly about the crime, or even naming Adela and Aziz, and so they allow it to become something huge and all-encompassing, a symbol of what they see as the Indian danger to English innocence. Fielding is thus a threat to the Anglo-Indians for daring to look at the incident objectively, and for choosing friendship over patriotism.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
“Muddles” and Mysteries Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon
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Fielding desperately tries to see Adela again, hoping to clear things up before the situation gets out of control, but McBryde says that the decision is up to Major Callendar. He calls Callendar, who automatically refuses to let Fielding see Adela, saying that she is very sick. Meanwhile Mahmoud Ali and Hamidullah have arrived to visit Aziz in his cell. Fielding continues to protest Aziz’s innocence, and McBryde wonders why he is bothering to mix himself up in the whole mess, whether Aziz is guilty or not.
Callendar, who was merely an annoyance to Aziz before, suddenly is placed in a position of power and able to stop Fielding’s attempt to make things right. McBryde seemingly cannot even conceive that an Englishman could be close friends with an Indian, as he wonders why Fielding is going to such trouble to help Aziz.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
“Muddles” and Mysteries Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
McBryde tries to reach out to Fielding, warning him to “toe the line” and not let his “personal views” separate him from the other English. Fielding asks to see Aziz, saying that Turton called him away immediately instead of letting him follow Aziz to prison. McBryde recognizes that he will be in trouble with Turton if he allows it, so he refuses Fielding’s request. At that moment more “evidence” arrives: a drawer from Aziz’s room with pictures of women in it. Fielding explains that the photos are of Aziz’s deceased wife, but McBryde doesn’t believe him.
Here McBryde makes explicit the English position in India, especially in this time of racial crisis: solidarity is more important than moral correctness, and patriotism more important than individual opinion. Thus even if Aziz is proven innocent, Fielding will have “betrayed” his countrymen. Even the most innocent parts of Aziz’s life are easily twisted to look suspicious or criminal.
Themes
Colonialism Theme Icon
“Muddles” and Mysteries Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Division vs. Unity Theme Icon
Race and Culture Theme Icon