A Passage to India

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A Passage to India Part 2, Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fielding wakes up to find that he and Adela are still alone at the college. Adela wants to talk with him, but he is reluctant, and reminds her that he “belongs to the other side.” He only becomes interested when she mentions the echo she keeps hearing in her head. Fielding suggests that maybe the echo contributed to a hallucination of the incident in the Marabar Cave.
Fielding and Adela now have their first real encounter, as Forster chooses to focus on the potential relationship between these two characters after the trial instead of Aziz’s reaction or the larger political effects in Chandrapore.
Themes
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Adela meekly accepts this possibility, and Fielding lists the options for what actually happened in the cave: Aziz did assault Adela (what the English think), Adela maliciously made up the charge against Aziz (what the Indians think), or else Adela somehow hallucinated the whole thing—which is what Fielding believes. Adela agrees that she had been feeling strange ever since hearing Godbole’s song at the tea party. Fielding likes her more when he recognizes how honest and humble she is being.
Fielding and Adela are both rational and unspiritual, but here they try to discuss something both muddled and mysterious, and they are uneasy about it. They both approach the mystery of Godbole’s song and the Marabar logically, but recognize that there are forces at work beyond them. Fielding finds himself reluctantly bonding with his compatriot.
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Fielding explains that he thinks Adela’s hallucination was dispelled in court by re-visualizing the incident—that McBryde’s questioning somehow “exorcised” her. This brings up 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 rude to Ronny. He says that he is trying to “resist the supernatural” as he gets older. Adela says that she too doesn’t believe in anything spiritual or supernatural.
The two feel uncomfortable using supernatural language like “exorcism” and “ghosts,” so they hastily return to scientific terms like “hallucination.” Once again the invocation of Mrs. Moore’s name brings a supernatural feeling into the room, though Adela and Fielding both reassure themselves that they are strictly rational.
Themes
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Adela asks Fielding what Aziz has said about her. Fielding answers awkwardly, remembering how bitterly Aziz has spoken of Adela, especially her ugliness. Aziz was especially offended to be accused of a woman without beauty, as “sexually, he was a snob.” Fielding cannot relate to this worldview of materialistic beauty, and it always created a barrier between him and Aziz when they discussed the matter. Fielding changes the subject by mentioning the fourth possibility of what happened in the cave: that the guide or some other stranger attacked Adela.
We see some of the differences between Aziz and Fielding that will ultimately be detrimental to their friendship. It is the subject of Adela herself that breaks them apart, and now that Fielding is befriending her Aziz will feel especially betrayed. Once again Fielding and Adela look for a logical explanation of what happened in the Marabar Cave by blaming the guide.
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Hamidullah arrives, overhearing the last part of their discussion. He is displeased to see Fielding and Adela together, and he speaks only to Fielding, refusing to even look at Adela. Adela tries to apologize and explain her conduct, but Hamidullah fears she is “setting another trap.” He describes how much suffering and ruin she has brought to Aziz, and he asks if the guide will be the next one to suffer. Hamidullah tells Fielding to come to the Nawab Bahadur’s house for the celebration.
After Aziz’s trial the English will start to disappear from the novel (apart from Fielding), and Forster turns his critique more towards the Indians. He is never as harsh or satirical to them as he is to the English, but he does show how many of the Indian characters react to their “victory” in disappointing ways, proving themselves just as flawed and unjust as many of the British.
Themes
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Adela plans to go to the Dak Bungalow, a poor lodging place, but Fielding invites her to stay at the college while he is away. Both Hamidullah and Fielding fear that Adela might be attacked wherever she stays, but Fielding doesn’t mind taking responsibility for her safety. He feels a “natural sympathy for the downtrodden,” and so now finds himself taking Adela’s side. Hamidullah wants to be rid of Adela, however, for her cold manner displeases him—if she had shown great emotion and kindness in her repentance, he would have forgiven her, but her “cold justice and honesty” feels false to him. None of the other Indians will forgive her either, because of this cultural divide.
Fielding, like Forster, finds himself critiquing the Indians’ aggression now that they are no longer the victims (in this particular situation). The Indian reaction to Adela shows an important cultural divide that will ultimately break apart Aziz and Fielding. Forster has shown that the English tend to be unimaginative and unemotional, while the Indians can be too much so. The Indians thus continue to dislike Adela, even though she actively saved Aziz, because they can sense that she acted without kindness or strong emotion. She was loyal to the truth, not to Aziz.
Themes
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Division vs. Unity Theme Icon
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Adela decides that she will try and return to the Turtons, but if they won’t take her in she will go to the Dak Bungalow. She is determined to be as little of a nuisance as possible. Hamidullah is relieved to see that Ronny has arrived outside, disguising himself in a lower-class carriage. Ronny doesn’t want to come inside, so Fielding goes out to meet him.
The Indian response to Adela mirrors a cultural divide Forster sees between India and the British Raj itself—the English value justice and fairness of actions, while the Indians value kindness and sincerity behind actions and words.
Themes
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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 punishment for shipping away Mrs. Moore, who loved India and Aziz. Fielding protests but not forcefully, as he recognizes that there will soon be an “Esmiss Esmoor legend at Chandrapore.” Both men are sad about the death, but they have no energy for outbursts of grief, as neither knew Mrs. Moore well.
Mrs. Moore’s death only strengthens the power of her memory in Chandrapore, and the spiritual forces she has come to represent. The fact that she died at sea also shows that she is a kind of otherworldly character, neither truly English nor truly Indian.
Themes
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Hamidullah and Fielding agree not to break the news to Aziz until the next day, so as not to ruin the celebration for 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 be alone with Ronny right now, and asks Fielding if she can in fact stay at the college. Fielding agrees, but asks that she bring Ronny inside.
Adela, like Aziz, adores Mrs. Moore and considers her to be her best friend, even though the older lady was actively unhelpful to her after the attack. Forster shows how the two English unexpectedly come together over cultural similarities—Fielding finds himself respecting Adela’s honesty and fairness, while Hamidullah is repulsed by her.
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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 Adela’s lodgings, and then Fielding leaves with Hamidullah, hours late for the Nawab Bahadur’s party. Amritrao rides with them, and on the way Hamidullah asks him how much Adela should be fined as compensation. Amritrao says twenty thousand rupees. Fielding is horrified by the amount, as now Adela might lose all her money and probably her fiancé as well.
Mrs. Moore died at sea, presumably around the same time that the crowds started chanting “Esmiss Esmoor,” furthering her role as a spiritual force and a presence in the courtroom. Hamidullah is now just as rude to Ronny and Adela as Ronny was rude to Aziz and Godbole at the tea party. Forster’s critique of the Indian reaction to the trial centers around the huge sums of money Aziz will demand from Adela as reparations for her false accusation against him.
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