A Passage to India


E. M. Forster

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A Passage to India: Part 2, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Aziz, Adela, and the guide visit several smaller caves, all of which are disappointing. Aziz is distracted by thoughts of the breakfast for his guests, while Adela is preoccupied with her own upcoming marriage. She starts planning out her future with Ronny, and then suddenly she stops, realizing that she and Ronny don’t actually love each other. She is appalled that she hasn’t even thought of this until now, but she decides that she can’t break off the engagement, as it would “cause so much trouble to others.”
The lead-up to the cave incident is one of disconnection, inner turmoil, and a kind of romantic embarrassment. In all her thoughts about marrying Ronny, Adela neglected even to consider romantic love, and once again she is disappointed by her own “British” practicality and prosaicness.
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Adela asks Aziz if he is married, and if he has children. He says he does, and doesn’t bother to say that is wife is dead. Thinking she is being inclusive, Adela then asks Aziz if he has more than one wife. Aziz is shocked by the question, which is both sensitive and offensive to his modern values, and he goes into a cave to recover his composure, thinking to himself “Damn the English even at their best.” Adela follows him in soon after, unaware that she has offended him.
Aziz is then included in Adela’s feelings of shame when she diverts her self-questioning with an insensitive remark. Aziz is especially touchy about this issue because it implies that he is somehow uncivilized or inferior, and so he slips into a cave to recover. Adela, we will learn later, also entered a cave, perhaps to recover after her realization about Ronny. Thus they are both isolated in their separate caves, and Forster never shows us what actually happens to Adela.
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