Test Prep


A Passage to India, E.M. Forster

Question 1

Ronny took no notice…. He did not mean to be rude to the two men, but the only link he could be conscious of with an Indian was the official, and neither happened to be his subordinate. As private individuals he forgot them.

Unfortunately Aziz was in no mood to be forgotten. He would not give up the secure and intimate note of the last hour. He had risen with Godbole, and now, offensively friendly, called from his seat, ‘Come along up and join us, Mr Heaslop; sit down till your mother turns up.’

Ronny replied by ordering one of Fielding’s servants to fetch his master at once.

‘He may not understand that. Allow me –‘ Aziz repeated the order idiomatically.

Ronny was tempted to retort; he knew the type; he knew all the types, and this was the spoilt Westernized.

(Part 1, Chapter VII, p. 70)

Use this extract as a starting point for a discussion of cross-cultural relations in A Passage to India. Your discussion should relate this passage to key motifs and preoccupations of the novel and to the novel’s form.

Question 2

Their mood was changed, and they recalled little kindnesses and courtesies. ‘She said “Thank you so much” in the most natural way.’ ‘She offered me a lozenge when the dust irritated my throat.’ Hamidullah could remember more important examples of angelic ministration, but the other, who only knew Anglo-India, had to ransack his memory for scraps, and it was not surprising that he should return to, ‘But of course all this is exceptional. The exception does not prove the rule. The average woman is like Mrs Turton, and, Aziz, you know what she is.’ Aziz did not know, but said he did. He too generalised from his disappointments – it is difficult for members of a subject race to do otherwise. Granted the exceptions, he agreed that all Englishwomen are haughty and venal. The gleam passed from the conversation, whose wintry surface unrolled and expanded interminably.                                                                                                                                   (Part 1, Chap II, pp. 10 -11)

Aziz was exquisitely dressed, from tie-pin to spats, but he had forgotten his back collar-stud, and there you have the Indian all over: inattention to detail; the fundamental slackness that reveals the race.

(Part 1, Chap VIII, p. 75)

Use these two extracts as a starting point for a discussion of the Passage to India’s examination of the problematic nature of “viewing”, “judging”, “reading”. What might the extracts suggest about the factors that make “viewing” difficult? How does the extract relate to formal issues of genre?

Question 3

…he felt Fielding’s fundamental good will. His own went out to it, and grappled beneath the shifting tides of emotion, which alone can bear the voyager to an anchorage, but may also carry him across it onto the rocks…. In every remark he found a meaning, but not always the true meaning, and his life, though vivid, was largely a dream. Fielding, for instance, had not meant that Indians are obscure, but that Post-Impressionism is; a gulf divided his remark from Mrs Turton’s, ‘Why, they speak English,’ but to Aziz the two sounded alike.

(Part 1, Ch VII, p. 61)

Fielding … had dulled his craving for verbal truth and cared chiefly for truth of mood. As for Miss Quested, she accepted everything Aziz said as true verbally. In her ignorance, she regarded him as ‘India’, and never surmised that his outlook was limited and his method inaccurate, and that no one is India.

(Part 1, Ch VII, p. 65)

Use these two extracts as a springboard for a discussion of what you take to be major thematic concerns in Forster’s novel. Your answer should include some discussion of form, and of key motifs used by Forster in his narrative.


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