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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 16

When Aziz regains his composure and realizes that Adela is still in a cave alone, he begins to search for her. Since she does not respond to his shouting and is nowhere to be seen, Aziz becomes frightened. He is afraid that something has happened to her; he worries that he may lose his career over the incident. Suddenly, he spots Adela near the foot of the hills, talking to another lady. He is so relieved that he does not realize that her conduct is odd.

On the way back to their "camp", he finds Adela's field glasses with the leather-strap broken. He picks them up, puts them in his pocket, and continues on his way. He is overjoyed to find Fielding waiting in the camp; he has been driven by Miss Derek. Aziz also learns, through Fielding, that Adela has left for Chandrapore, riding with Miss Derek on her return trip. Fielding thinks it is rude that she has left without telling her host. Aziz, however, is simply glad that she is safe.

Aziz tries to entertain Mrs. Moore and Fielding, but it is obvious they are having no fun. Mrs. Moore is simply tired and impatient. She is ready to return to Chandrapore. After Fielding goes to see one of the caves, they catch the return train. When they arrive at the station in Chandrapore, Inspector Haq arrests Aziz but fails to state the charges against him. In a panic, Aziz tries to escape, but Fielding grabs him and calms him down. He tells Aziz that there is surely a mistake and that he will come along to help. Ronny comes to take his mother away, and Fielding is summoned by the collector, Mr. Turton. Aziz must goes to the prison alone.


Notes

An undercurrent of social strain permeates this chapter, as the outing to the Marabar Hills becomes a total disaster. Everyone is bored with the trip and uninterested in the caves. Aziz is a nervous wreck, worrying about every detail and disappointed that things are not going well. Mrs. Moore gets frightened in the first cave and becomes physically ill. Adela unintentionally insults Aziz, who then allows her to wander into one of the caves alone. Aziz becomes frightened that something has happened to Adela, before he learns that she has returned to Chandrapore with Miss Derek, not saying a word to anyone about her departure. The day, already a miserable failure, ends with the arrest of Aziz.

At this point in the novel, Forster has built up several mysteries. He has not explained what has happened to Adela in the cave. He also has not revealed why Aziz has been arrested. Finally, he has not explained why the strap on Adela's field glasses is broken. Of course, the fact that Aziz has picked up the glasses and has them in his pocket works against him.

When Aziz is arrested, he is panic-stricken and tries to run. Fielding catches him and calms him down, stating that there is surely some mistake. Aziz is much relieved when Fielding says he will go with him to the prison to straighten out things. Fielding, however, is called away by the Collector and cannot go to the prison. Aziz is certain to be panic-stricken when he discovers that his British friend is not with him.

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