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MonkeyNotes-A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
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Chapter 36

While the religious festival goes, Aziz, not really understand Hindu ways and not wanting to be an interloper, chooses not to attend; instead, he takes a ride out toward the European Guest House to deliver some promised ointment for the bee stings. He notices a boat on the pond and thinks it must be Fielding. The Guest House is quiet, so Aziz curiously looks around. While searching the rooms, he finds two letters on the piano; one is from Ronny to Fielding and the other from Adela to Fielding. Aziz realizes that Ronny and Adela are Fielding's friends now. In his anger, he strikes the piano and the noise brings in a nervous Ralph Moore, who seems a little strange. Aziz says that he has to come to treat his bee stings.

Aziz, the poet, notes that Ralph's rarity is beautiful. In spite of this, he treats Ralph roughly. Ralph asks him why his family deserves such contempt when they have done no harm to him. Aziz tries to point out the Marabar Caves incident, but precisely at that moment, a series of gunfire goes off as part of the festival, followed by chanting to name the deities. Aziz falls quiet. When he leaves, he shakes hands with Ralph, who notes that Aziz is not being unkind anymore. Aziz calls Ralph an "oriental," the same compliment he had once paid Mrs. Moore. They speak about her briefly and reverently. Aziz then takes Ralph for a boat ride to see the festival procession from the water.

As they are boating, Aziz wonders if the cycle with Mrs. Moore is starting again: mosque to caves, mosque to caves. Ralph encourages Aziz to go near the place where an immersion of the Lord Krishna is taking place in the river. Aziz obliges him. In the frenzy, Aziz's boat collides with another in which Fielding and his wife Stella are boating. All four of them fall into the river, a symbolic place of rebirth. Aziz and Fielding come together again.


Notes

The celebrations in honor of the birth of Lord Krishna have reached the final stage, culminating in taking an idol of the god of love in a procession to be immersed ceremoniously in the river. As the festivities draw towards their close, Aziz, not participating in the celebration, goes to the guest house to deliver some ointment to Ralph for the bee-stings. Ralph is an idiot savant, a fool with astounding perceptive abilities. He rejects Aziz's offer to treat him because Aziz, trying to make Ralph pay for being British, is too rough.

Aziz is suddenly struck by the remarkable resemblance between Ralph and his mother, Mrs. Moore. As a result, Aziz is drawn towards Ralph. He takes him for a boat ride to view the closing activities of the festival. While they are in the boat with the Hindu chanting in the background, Aziz notices a pattern: mosque to caves, mosque to caves. Forster has put the plot into a sort of Hindu set of cycles, where all becomes one.

At one point on the water, it seems that Ralph is the guide, pointing out to Aziz the representation of the Rajah's father. It is not easy to understand who belongs to which position - who is ruled and who is ruler. In India, all things seem to be a mystery. When the representative Indian, the beautiful body, launches the model of Krishna's birthplace into the water, it causes a collision between Aziz's boat and Fielding's boat. It is most appropriate that the "interlopers" crash to prevent them from participating in the culmination of the holy festival. It is also important to notice that it is Stella's action that capsizes the boats, symbolizing again the problems that women cause. The result of the crash is that all four of them wind up in the river; it is a release of tension and a symbolic baptism into a renewed life.

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