Animal Motifs in a Passage to India

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The recurring animal motifs in A Passage To India suggest a harmonious life existing outside of the contrasting state of humanity. While tensions escalate among the English and Indians, peace presides in the animal kingdom. Perhaps the only characters outside of the animals who acknowledge this peace are Mrs. Moore and Professor Godbole who specifically identify with a wasp extending their voluntary cognizance to Indian culture and the understanding of unity among all living creatures on Earth. "Pretty dear," Mrs. Moore gently refers to the wasp that she spots resting on the indoor cloak peg (Forster, 35). Instead of encouraging the wasp to rest elsewhere, Mrs. Moore, the idealized Englishwoman of the novel, sympathizes with the insect and says, "Perhaps he mistook the peg for a branch - no Indian animal has any sense of an interior. …insects will as soon nest inside a house as out; it is to them a normal growth of the eternal jungle..." (Forster, 35). It is interesting that Forster chooses to use an English character's observation of insects living compatibly with humans to convey the Indian attitude that all life is significant. Because of her willingness to experience the "real" India, Mrs. Moore comes to understand the country and its consideration for all life, contrasting the worldview of her home in England, and because of her interest is possibly the only character Forster could have used to do so. The wasp motif is used twice more in the novel suggesting a similar theme and catalyzing other worldviews in both instances. In chapter four, two Christians discuss whether or not animals will have eternal life arriving at the conclusion that insects, such as wasps, will not. Forster uses these minor characters as spokespersons for Christianity and identifies them as not understanding the animal race to be unified with humanity.

Lastly, Professor Godbole, a Hindu character, has a vision of Mrs. Moore and a wasp in Part 3 and...
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