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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 9

Aziz falls ill after the party at Fielding's and remains bedridden for three days. While he rests, he thinks about sex and weighs the pros and cons of being with a woman; he decides that in his position he cannot risk scandal. He also thinks about Fielding and wishes he could visit him, but Aziz is ashamed of his rooms and will not invite his new English friend to come over. He does, however, have many other visitors. One of them reports that Professor Godbole has also fallen ill; these Moslem men blame Godbole's illness on the unclean habits of the Hindi. Another visitor says he is on his way to a meeting of men from various religions and sects; they are going to discuss ousting the British. Dr. Lal comes in, and there is an argument among the men about Dr. Godbole's illness; someone claims it is cholera, but supposedly a schoolboy has started this rumor.

Fielding enters the room while the argument is still raging. Aziz feels embarrassed. As a result, he finds that he cannot at first respond warmly to Fielding. The visitor, however, engages in a pleasant conversation, putting everyone more at east. Fielding surprises the Moslem men by saying that he does not believe in God. The company questions him and wonders how godless Englishmen can justify occupying India. Fielding cannot answer; he only explains that he came to India because he needed a job. The Indians are impressed because he does not say that he has come to change or rule over the Indians, like the other Englishmen say. Fielding also says that he is happy in India and feels that whoever is not happy in India, should be sent away. The Indians are amazed at Fielding's frankness. They also argue among themselves about India. Finally Fielding insists that everyone must leave so that Aziz can rest. When he leaves, Fielding feels disappointed with his visit; he feels "cheap."


Notes

This chapter stresses the point that as long as the British continue to be in India, anti-British feeling will unite all the Indians together against a common enemy. Both Hindus and Moslems can blame the British for all their problems. But the Indians are a divided people at many levels; even the Moslems gathered in Aziz's room cannot agree. When discussing a minor matter, such as Godbole's illness, these men loudly express diverse opinions. Forster blames the lack of cohesion on the British colonial influence. The corrupting influence of imperialism touches everyone, including Aziz and Fielding, who try to be fair-minded.

This chapter reveals more about Aziz and Fielding. Although he is not arrogant, Aziz is a proud man. He has not wanted to bring Mrs. Moore and Adela to his rooms. Now, in his sickness, he wishes that he could see Fielding, but he does not dare invite him to his shabby apartment. When Fielding shows up on his own, Aziz feels embarrassed over his room and over the silly arguments raging amongst his friends. The friendly and courteous Fielding, however, tries to put everyone at ease. He takes control of the situation, guiding the conversation. The Indians, who are highly religious, are amazed when he states that he does not believe in God and question how a godless and immoral race can rule and suppress them. Fielding also insists that the visitors leave Aziz in peace at the appropriate time. In spite of his efforts, Fielding does not feel good about his visit after his departure.

It is important to notice that the conflict between Moslems and Hindus appears again in this chapter. When it is learned that Dr. Godbole is sick, the Moslem men are quick to blame his illness on the unclean habits of all Hindus, including physicians. It is also important to notice that one of the visitors is on his way to an Indian meeting, where men from varied religions and sects will discuss a move towards Indian independence. For almost the next half century after the time of the novel, India will be plagued with this concern.

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