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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 8

Adela knew Ronny quite well in England, where he behaved as a gentleman; she is now shocked to see that in India he is overbearing and utterly lacking in subtlety, refinement, and gentleness. Adela is appalled at his entrance and behavior at Fielding's tea party. She expresses her disappointment by picking a quarrel with him over the visit to Marabar Caves with Aziz. Mrs. Moore stops their quarrel, but when Adela is alone with Ronny, she tells him she cannot marry him. Ronny is hurt, but he hides his feelings and accepts her rejection. Adela says that she is sorry that she has put him and his mother to so much trouble. Ronny claims that her plan of coming to India with Mrs. Moore was a good one, for she learned the truth about them. He now feels there is not further reason they should quarrel. In the end, Ronny and Adela decide to remain friends.

Nawab Bahadur spies Ronny and Adela together and convinces them to go for a car ride. Ronny accepts the invitation. He feels that this is a chance to show Adela that he can be reasonable, especially after treating Aziz and Godbole so poorly at the tea party. During the ride, he and Adela are careful towards one another. Bahadur drives on and on until it gets dark. Then there is an accident. Adela has seen the cause--a large and mysterious dark animal. They search for the animal's tracks to identify it, but cannot find them. They decide it must have been a hyena. Miss Derek comes by in her car and offers to give them a lift; only the chauffeur, who is half white and half native, is not invited. He is left to watch the wrecked car.


The loud and proud Miss Derek works for a native official, and Ronny thinks her position is distasteful. For a change, Adela sides with Ronny, claiming that Miss Derek's employers must be uninteresting. Miss Derek says Adela is wrong. Surprisingly, Bahadur takes up Miss Quested's arguments, saying that all officials tend to inflate their importance.

Ronny and Adela hold hands in the car, and for a moment sensual pleasure overcomes them. When they return, they tell Mrs. Moore that they are engaged, which delights her. To please both his mother and his fiancée, Ronny makes a point of saying that Bahadur and Aziz are model Indians. Mrs. Moore is insulted because he implies that the rest of the natives are not acceptable. To prove his point, Ronny tells how his Indian servants have lost some of his files. He also tells of the accident as an example of their worthlessness. Mrs. Moore thinks that a ghost caused the crash. As Adela and Mrs. Moore play cards, they talk of India, the "ghost," and Adela's ambivalence about marriage. Mrs. Moore also reveals that she is tired and ready to go back to England.

Bahadur goes to town and tells his friends, including Aziz, that several years before he ran over a drunk man, whose ghost has haunted him ever since. Tonight the ghost of that drunk man ran him off the road and he almost killed two English people and a chauffeur. The practical Aziz warns Bahadur's grandson not to live by such superstition.

Notes

The chapter focuses on Ronny and Adela, who do not meet each other's expectations. She is particularly offended by Ronny's rude ways and decides that that he is not a proper match for her. When Adela tells him that she cannot marry him, he is hurt and defensive. They decide they can be friends. When Bahadur offers them a drive in the car, Ronny accepts, for he wants to prove that he can be tolerant to natives. In the car, the couple is tender towards one another and decide they should be married. Both are pictured as immature, not knowing what they want.

The car accident adds mystery to the novel. Adela thinks that she has seen the creature that has caused the accident, but when they search for its tracks, they find none; therefore, the "ghost" creature foreshadows the cave incident, when Adela again thinks she sees something. At the end of the chapter, Bahadur explains the accident to his friends. He had once run over and killed a drunk man, whose ghost haunts him. He believes it is that ghost which has caused the car accident. Mrs. Moore also has an understanding of "ghost." In her Western way of thinking, a person's conscience produces the "ghost." It is ironic that Aziz tells the grandson that they, as Indians, must no longer believe in superstitions.

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