After the “shipwreck,” Aziz and Fielding suddenly find their old friendship and harmony restored, as if the intervening years had never happened. They go for a last ride in the Mau jungles before Fielding leaves, aware that they will never see each other again. Officially, Fielding’s visit has been a failure, as Godbole never actually showed him the school he came to examine. Aziz finally tells Fielding the truth: the school was converted into a granary, but Godbole didn’t want to admit it to Fielding. Fielding laughs at the muddle, but “he did not travel as lightly as in the past,” and he is deeply concerned about the state of education in India now.
The two friends are now mysteriously reconciled after the climactic confusion, although they have grown apart into their own separate flaws. Aziz is now fiercely nationalistic and often unreasonable, while Fielding has become more of a typical English official, placing his trust in the colonial system. They recognize that this is the last time they will see each other, and that the humanistic “experiment” of their friendship has failed in the long term.
Aziz and Fielding ride through beautiful jungles and fields, feeling happy. The nature they pass seems almost as “park-like” as England, but still slightly strange and unfamiliar. Aziz gives Fielding a letter for Adela, thanking her for her actions during the trial. He now realizes that she acted bravely, and he says that he will appreciate her and try to “wipe out” the Marabar incident forever.
The foreign and unfriendly Indian landscape suddenly seems more familiar and comfortable, just as the two men start to understand each other again, and Aziz decides to forgive Adela. He is finally freeing himself from the prison of his bitterness.
Fielding says that Aziz should talk to Stella or Ralph, as they have some interesting ideas about the Marabar Caves, and seem drawn to Hinduism since arriving in Mau. Stella and Fielding’s marriage has been difficult, but Stella seems to have found “some solution of her queer troubles” in Mau. Aziz doesn’t want to meet the Moores again or talk about Hinduism, saying that he still doesn’t understand Hindus even after living with them.
Aziz and Fielding have basically failed in their “experiment” of friendship, and neither of them has any interest in Hinduism, so ultimately Forster puts forward the Moores as his hope for the future of a kinder and more openminded England, just as he proposes Hinduism as a potential unifying force for India.
They then discuss politics. Fielding and Aziz have both grown more politically “hardened” than before, and have differing views, but in their intimacy they can discuss things without anger or misunderstanding. Fielding now believes that the British Raj cannot be abolished simply because it is impolite—he uses the example of Godbole’s school, saying that India “goes to seed” without an English presence.
Even though their actual views differ more sharply now, on this last ride the two men can perceive the sincere “truth of mood” and lack the miscommunications of their former intimacy. Fielding now takes his compatriots’ view of the British Raj—that justice is more important than kindness.
Aziz, on the other hand, says all the English should “clear out,” as the Indians don’t need them anymore. He predicts that during the next European war, when England is in trouble again, then the Indians will take back India. Aziz stumbles when Fielding asks him for details of his plan to drive out the English and unite India, but he is still filled with confidence and excitement that India will become its own nation.
It is now through Aziz that Forster predicts the downfall of the British Raj and the rise of a multicultural Indian nation—events that would indeed occur in 1947, after World War II. Aziz lacks evidence and a detailed plan, but he has now put his passion and imagination behind a cause of a free and independent India.
Aziz declares that India will drive out every last Englishman, even if it must happen in his children’s generation. And only then, he says, can the two men truly be friends. Aziz and Fielding embrace. Fielding asks why they can’t be friends now, as both of them want it. But then their horses swerve apart, and the earth, rocks, temples, and sky seem to separate them, declaring, “No, not yet.”
The novel ends on a slightly pessimistic note, as the Indian landscape itself divides the two men from the true friendship they both desire. And yet the land’s answer is not “no,” but “not yet”—leaving open the potential for the success of humanism and equality and the possibility of future friendship. Aziz and Fielding, like India and England, can be true friends if the colonial system is fixed or overthrown so as to eliminate the dynamic of power between the English and Indians, and if people can come together with respect, openmindedness, and kindness, along with a belief in the unity and equality of everyone.