Wasps are mentioned occasionally throughout the novel, and their appearance signifies the theme of the oneness of all living things, especially in the Hindu vision of pantheism. The wasp associates Mrs. Moore with Hinduism for the first time when she watches one in her room and feels an appreciation and love for it. Years later, Professor Godbole thinks of both Mrs. Moore and the wasp when filled with religious ecstasy and love for all living things. The wasp generally represents the “lowest” of creatures that can be incorporated into the vision of oneness—Godbole tries to include a stone in his universal love, but cannot. Thus the wasp is also symbolic of the limits of the idea of unity, which is not a perfect solution, but still a hopeful one for India politically and for the characters’ internal struggles.
Wasps Quotes in A Passage to India
…young Mr. Sorley, who was advanced, said Yes; he saw no reason why monkeys should not have their collateral share of bliss, and he had sympathetic discussions about them with his Hindu friends… And the wasps? He became uneasy during the descent to wasps, and was apt to change the conversation. And oranges, cactuses, crystals, and mud? And the bacteria inside Mr. Sorley? No, no, this is going too far. We must exclude someone from our gathering, or we shall be left with nothing.
Thus Godbole, though she was not important to him, remembered an old woman he had met in Chandrapore days. Chance brought her into his mind while it was in this heated state, he did not select her, she happened to occur among the throng of soliciting images, a tiny splinter, and he impelled her by his spiritual force to that place where completeness can be found. Completeness, not reconstruction. His sense grew thinner, he remembered a wasp seen he forgot where, perhaps on a stone. He loved the wasp equally, he impelled it likewise, he was imitating God. And the stone where the wasp clung – could he… no, he could not, he had been wrong to attempt the stone…