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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 19

Fielding meets Hamidullah, a lawyer, outside the police station. Fielding is frustrated to hear the attorney say he feels helpless in trying to defend Aziz's case, for there is little hope of proving his innocence. Fielding is greatly disappointed in the defeatist attitude of Hamidullah; he is also concerned when he learns that the notoriously anti-British lawyer, Mr. Amrit Rao, is being asked to defend Aziz. Fielding is against the idea, because he wants Aziz to be quickly and quietly proven innocent with a minimum of racial upset.

Fielding's greatest wish has been to get through his years in India unscathed; unfortunately, he is now labeled as anti-British. When he returns to the college, he discusses Aziz with Godbole. The Hindu, however, is not concerned about what happens to Aziz. He is only interested in Fielding suggesting a name for the new college he hopes to start in Central India. Fielding is perplexed at Godbole's nonchalant attitude. He asks him whether he believes Aziz is guilty or innocent. Godbole responds by delivering a long lecture on the Hindu idea of good and evil. To Fielding, it seems that good and evil are one and the same in Hindu dharma. When he questions Godbole about it, the Hindu says that both good and evil are aspects of the same God. In also explains his belief that absence implies presence, for absence is a kind of existence. From this Godbole concludes that everyone is guilty.

Fielding is finally allowed to see Aziz, whose only remark to his British friend is "you deserted me." Since Aziz will not talk to him and he is not permitted to talk with Adela, he decides to write her a letter; he has no hope, however, that she will be allowed to receive it.


Notes

From the discussion that Fielding and Hamidullah have outside the superintendent's office, it is clear that both of them are absolutely sure that Aziz is innocent; but Hamidullah is equally sure that Aziz does not have much of a chance of being found innocent. He also fears trying to defend Aziz himself. Fielding is disgusted with Hamidullah's negative attitude and lack of courage; he decides that Indians in general are cowards. Fielding also fears Hamidullah's idea of seeking wider publicity for the case; he knows it will only cause more ill feelings by the British to the Indians. No matter what happens, Fielding sees the disaster growing.

The indifference of Godbole to Aziz's plight is annoying to Fielding. Trying to get him involved, Fielding asks Godbole if he thinks the Indian is innocent or guilty. Then Godbole, in keeping with his strong Hindu background, talks about good and evil both being part of God; therefore, man is also good and evil, making everyone guilty. By implication, Godbole has said that Aziz is guilty.

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