A Thematic Analysis of A Passage to India
A discussion about the themes that occur throughout the classic novel A Passage to India, including the themes of friendship, integrity, and the struggle of colonization.


A Summary of A Passage to India

Biography of E.M. Forster

E.M. Forster' Style

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            A theme is defined as the universal idea or concept that an author wishes to convey in their work. E.M. Forster's classic novel A Passage to India concerns mainly the universal themes of friendship, integrity, and the struggle between colonizing powers. Forster's novel accurately depicts these themes, which are timeless and handled in such a way as to ensure their relevancy for years.  

            Friendship is one of the central themes of Forster's novels. Aziz's desire to make friends with Mrs. Moore and Fielding is especially  important to the novel. The author handles this theme in such a way that the reader comes away with a clear message about the importance of good friends and the fickle nature of society as far as interracial friendships are concerned. Though their initial meeting is brief, Mrs. Moore and Dr. Aziz make quite the lasting impression on each other. Both are haunted and attempt to make contact again, setting off a chain of events that leads to the climax of the book. Mrs. Moore, in fact, is one of the people who stands up to those who wish to condemn Aziz because of the testimony of Ms. Quested, which proves to be false. Fielding also proves to be an invaluable friend to Aziz, standing steadfastly by him through the trial. Even though the two drift apart after Aziz hears of a false betrayal by Fielding, when they meet years later they reconnect instantly, highlighting Forster's theme of the lasting power of friendship. This power, though, is apparently not comparable to the power of society's disapproval, as one sees when they part again and consider rekindling their close relationship, but even the rocks seem to say "no, not yet" (Forster 362).

            Another one of Forster's themes that occurs throughout A Passage to India is the question of the integrity of people. This is seen during the conflict that occurs after the incident in the Marabar Caves. It is true that from the time the incident happened, Ms. Quested was not entirely sure that she had accused the right person. However, this does not stop her from continuing to accuse him of the molestation she suffered in the dark. By the end of the ordeal, she is convinced that it was not Aziz who attacked her, and is so consumed with guilt that she is unable to come out in public and is so weak she must have someone else take care of her. But she is reluctant to tell the truth, considering the trouble and effort the local white males went through to make sure Aziz was portrayed as a wild and vicious local. In the end though. Ms. Quested realizes that the only way to soothe her conscience is to come clean, and so displays the integrity that is central to the climax of the story.

            The last theme Forster tackles in his novel is one concerning colonization and the merits and drawbacks of integrating two cultures. The British invaders in this novel are reluctant to examine their position too carefully, afraid that they will be exposed to the holes in their justifications about staying in the country. Many believe that they are in the country to help "civilize" the savage locals, but are still unable to force themselves to socialize with the foreign culture. The natives are also faced with their innate hostility towards the invaders while they are also attempting to rise up to an acceptable position within the white society. In the end, neither side is comfortable, nor do they get any of what they desire. None of the Indians rise up in social status, and the British are still stuck in their uncomfortable position of being the bumbling, unwelcome invader.

            In all, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India concerns many themes that are timeless and will remain relevant for years to come. Questions concerning friendship, integrity, and the morality of forcing one culture onto another are universal, and can be found around the world even today.