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Passage to India, A

a novel by E. M. Forster, published in 1924. The novel, which drew on the author's experiences in India in 1912 and 19212, when he was personal secretary to the Maharajah of Dewas, describes the class-ridden and fundamentally unstable society which existed under the British Raj, foreshadowing the eventual decline of British imperialism and the rise of Indian nationalism with extraordinary prescience; consequently the book was widely criticized in Anglo-Indian circles for what was regarded as its anti-British bias. The plot deals with a scandal involving a young Indian doctor, Aziz (a sympathetic portrait of great subtlety), and Adela Quested, a plain, spinsterish Englishwoman who has come out to India in order to marry and finds herself overwhelmed, in more than one sense, by the experience. The novel opens with a description of the city of Chandrapore, where much of the action takes place, and moves to a meeting between Aziz and Mrs Moore, the elderly Englishwoman whose son, Ronnie, the City Magistrate, is engaged to marry Miss Quested, and who has accompanied her future daughter-in-law to India. After an initial wariness on Aziz's part, a friendship develops, as a result of which he invites the two ladies to tea and subsequently offers to show them the celebrated Marabar Caves. He goes to great lengths to plan this expedition and himself acts as guide, although Mrs Moore feels unwell at the last moment and does not accompany Aziz and Adela into the Caves; she is therefore unable to provide crucial evidence in support of Aziz, whom she stubbornly believes to be innocent, after he is accused by Miss Quested of indecent assault. Aziz is arrested and put on trial; assumed guilty by most of the British contingent, he is defended by Mrs Moore (who is despatched home by her son and dies on the way) and by Fielding, the Principal of the Government College, who befriends him. Feelings run high on both sides, and an anti-British riot seems almost inevitable when, in a scene of intense excitement, Adela Quested withdraws her accusation and Aziz is released. Humiliated and exhausted by her courtroom ordeal, her engagement broken off, she returns to England. Fielding follows her, some time later, and the two become friends; he later marries Mrs Moore's daughter, Stella. A final reconciliation takes place between Fielding and Aziz years later, on the former's return to India, where the young doctor, now working in another part of the country, encounters his former friend and learns something which helps to mitigate the bitterness he has felt against the British as a result of the ‘Marabar Case’. The novel ends with his realization that he and Fielding can only truly be friends once India is free: ‘India shall be a nation! No foreigners of any sort! Hindu and Moslem and Sikh and all shall be one! Hurrah! Hurrah for India!’

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Cynthia Ozick Biography to Ellis Peters Biography