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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 11

While Fielding waits for his horse, Aziz summons him and asks him to stay a minute more. Aziz is ashamed of his earlier behavior and apologizes for his lack of hospitality. He then shows Fielding a photograph of his dead wife, who has never been seen by an Englishman. Fielding is touched by the gesture. Aziz also states that he is lonely, but he does not mind not having his children with him. Aziz then tells his British friend that he has shared his private life with him because he feels that Fielding is kind, compassionate, and understanding. Although the Englishman is flattered by the words, he also feels sad. He is suddenly aware of his age and worries about his lack of emotion.

Fielding says he was once engaged, but the lady broke it off. He will not talk about it more, not wanting to be too intimate with Aziz. The Indian asks Fielding why he does not marry Adela. Fielding is horrified at this suggestion, for he finds the young lady very unacceptable. They then talk of Adela's plans to marry Ronny and discuss her small breasts, which embarrasses Fielding.

Aziz cautions Fielding that his talking against religion and God in Indian company may be reported. He is fearful that Fielding could lose his job. Fielding says that he does not care, for he can survive without a permanent job. In addition, he loves to travel. Aziz sadly notes the difference between them; his own religion binds him to the society, while Fielding seems to be as free as a bird. In spite of their differences, Aziz feels they are "brothers."

Aziz drops off to sleep thinking about Ghalib's poetry, the gracefulness of women, his friends, his beloved, dead wife, and his children whom he cherishes.


Notes

After everyone leaves, Aziz feels terrible about his treatment of Fielding. He calls his friend back and asks him to stay awhile longer. As they converse, a new understanding develops between them. Aziz, portrayed as an emotional person, shows Fielding a picture of his dead wife and talks about his children. He wants to be intimate with Fielding and gain affection and sympathy from him. Fielding, however, is a reserved Englishman, unable to respond freely or talk deeply of his personal life.

Aziz sees the great contrast between them. Fielding is a liberal, who does not believe in God; Aziz is firmly rooted in his religious tradition. Aziz is greatly affected by the death of his wife; Fielding is almost flippant over the fact that his fiancée left him, indicating marriage and family are not very important to him. Aziz is very emotional; Fielding is more reserved and guarded. These differences go much deeper than just between Aziz and Fielding; these are the cultural differences that separate the Eastern mind from the Western mind, the Indian from the British. No wonder it is so difficult to achieve communication between such vastly different people. In spite of their differences, Aziz sees himself and Fielding as brothers. This is a significant viewpoint, for it indicates hope for race relations.

Content that he has set things right with Fielding, Aziz goes to sleep peacefully, remembering only warmth and friendship. He has a vision of harmony, coming from the caves, that ends the first section; this peaceful vision will be a direct contrast to the mass hysteria and violence of the next section in the novel.

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