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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 31

When Aziz next meets Fielding, he attacks his old friend in an "oblique" way, by hinting at the affair with Adela. He talks about the ugly rumors surrounding the torrid affair of Miss Derek and McBryde. Fielding understands the hints, and the two men argue. Fielding is furious and calls Aziz "a little rotter." Aziz says it must be his "oriental imagination" at work. Both regret their comments and make apologies, but their friendship is irreparably strained.

Fielding is ordered to attend a meeting at the club, where he meets the new officials. Later he joins Aziz for dinner and apologizes for his awkward dinner arrangements. Though they still try to be friendly, their conversations are jerky, and they both feel dissatisfied. When Aziz learns that Fielding is thinking about leaving Chandrapore, he is sure that Englishman is going to England to meet Adela.

Aziz turns the conversation to poetry, telling Fielding that he wants to leave Chandrapore and become a poet. He explains how difficult it is to compose a truly "Indian" poem since the country is so diverse. He also says he will not become a religious poet, which Fielding regrets. They both agree that there is something fascinating in Hinduism, but the Hindus "are unable to sing." Before departing, they apologize again for the earlier argument. It is the last time the two men will be together in Chandrapore. Aziz is going to take his children to their grandparents and will be out of town when Fielding leaves the city.

Aziz still thinks Fielding is going to marry Adela for the money that he persuaded Aziz not to take from her. In his heart of hearts, he does not want to believe these suspicions, but he cannot shake them from his mind. Fielding is aware of Aziz's suspicions, and he attempts to explain his conduct and behavior in a lengthy letter to his Indian friend. Aziz is repelled by what he sees as Fielding's generalizations and distance. He replies to Fielding coldly, saying that when Fielding returns, he himself will be far away in another province slaving away at some new job. Aziz's friends commiserate with him over Fielding's treatment; they say that Fielding has turned cold. Later, Aziz is strongly convinced that Fielding and Adela are married.


Notes

The chapter starts with a wonderful irony. McBryde, convinced that Aziz had been forward to Adela, had built the doctor into a sleazy fellow; in reality, he was actually having an affair with Miss Derek at the same time he accused Aziz. There is also some wonderful dialogue in this chapter. Aziz's words are filled with insinuations and Fielding "fields" his remarks.

The friendship of Aziz and Fielding is shown to be irreparably damaged. Outwardly, the problem focuses on Adela; but Forster is careful to show how each man's thinking is vastly different from the other. Since their thought processes are so divergent, Foster shows how a lasting Anglo-Indian friendship is practically impossible. With both men leaving Chandrapore, the friendship is certain to wane even further. As proof of the widening gap between them, the letters they send to each other are "cool", lacking emotion.

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