Passage to India

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The Indian vs. the European Religion and Way of Thinking
Religion is probably the most definitive factor in the way Indians lead their lives, particularly if they practice Hinduism and this is why the clash between Hinduism and Christanity in A Passage to India parallels the conflict between the Indians and the British. Hinduism is best represented in the novel by professor Godbole, and Christianity is epitomized in Mrs. Moore who comes to India with the kindness and understanding heart of a devout Christian but leaves morose and peevish. Perhaps she is haunted into this state by professor Godbole’s strange song. It is this song that forces Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested into emotional cocoons from which they only escape to meet horrible circumstances: Mrs. Moore is terrorized to the point of apathy and Mrs. Quested meets horror in caves.

Another significant aspect is the enormous difference between the English colonial elite and the native population of India. One can see that the English treat the Indians with lack of respect and the Indians seem to expect it.

Cultural misunderstanding is turned into a major theme in the novel. Differing cultural ideas and expectations regarding hospitality, social properties and the role of religion in daily life are responsible for misunderstandings between the English and the Muslim Indians, the English and the Hindu Indians, and between the Muslims and the Hindus. Aziz tells Fielding at the end of the novel: ‘It is useless discussing Hindus with me. Living with them teaches me no more. When I think I annoy them, I do not. When I think I don’t annoy them, I do’.

Forster demonstrates how these repeated misunderstandings become hardened into cultural stereotypes and are often used to justify the uselessness of attempts to bridge the cultural gulfs
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