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A Passage to India
The prominent novel A Passage to India invites readers to reflect deeply upon a myriad of conflicts from a religious, socio-cultural, and even a psychological perspective. Those conflicts arise predominantly from encounters between the British colonizers and the native population of India.
Forster’s novel opens and closes with a fundamental question of whether Indian natives and British representatives could strike up a genuine friendship with one another. Naturally, this is used as a framework setting the general idea of the British political control all over Indian lands built on a more individual level, namely the friendship between Fielding and Aziz. Both of them typify another quite positive pattern, one of the liberal humanism towards all human beings regardless of their race, gender, or beliefs. This model serves as a successful one for both English and Oriental people as it talks about treating all individuals equally.
The racial stereotypes are deeply rooted in the novel affecting the Oriental world of Indian women and men alike. The racism, however, is displayed in several viewpoints represented by Forster. For example, the blinding pride model of Indian men is displayed through their “offered protection” of Oriental women. With this in mind, English men are seen as a threat to the pure community of the Oriental womanhood.
The friendship between Aziz and Fielding is challenged once more when Aziz shows him a picture of his wife. This act is, however, forbidden according to the “laws” imposing the veiling of women. As his friend, Aziz breaches this “law” as Fielding raises the question whether it’d be possible to treat all humans as “brothers” without the necessity of “purdah.”
The Oriental world of the Indian womanhood is believed to be displayed as an unenlightened, passive, morally corrupted and barbarous one. Oriental women are excluded from the world of the literate and independent women. This imperial ideology builds tension between the Hindu, Muslim and British characters in the novel. The “talk” about the need for removal of the so-called purdah (veiling of the women) is an essential step towards setting an Indian statehood for Oriental women.
Forster’s novel A Passage to India reveals the necessity to look beyond the racial stereotypes, cultural beliefs, and religion. The author offers us a fresh look into the whole entity of equality and tolerance to be able to communicate freely without prejudices towards any individual.
“A Passage to India. Book Summary.” Cliffnotes.com, www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/p/a-passage-to-india/book-summary.
Shmoop Editorial Team. “A Passage to India Summary.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/passage-to-india/summary.html.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Passage to India.” SparkNotes.com, SparkNotes LLC, 2007, www.sparknotes.com/lit/passage.