Category Archives: E. M. Forster

18th Discussion: E. M. Forster’s Passage to India (17 Mar 2011)

Timmy kicked off with the discussion to say that the novel is “as dry as my sex life.” Although Aaron agreed that the novel is slow, he said that it is because India is described so well, as if it is another character, not a location. The novel is really a tribute to India.

1. Mrs Moore: According to Timmy, she is the “Betty White” of India. Alex brought up: Why is she punished and killed off? There isn’t even a proper burial for her. Nice person dies horribly. Aaron thought that she’s punished because she lacks the courage to do the right thing, to stand up for Aziz. Aaron then asked two questions: Why is she the one who is sympathetic towards the Indians? and What is the significance of associating the wasp with her throughout the novel? To which, Raj replied, it is the philosophy of Mrs Moore not hurting the wasp that brings her close to the Indians whose philosophy is to respect all things, even ugly ones; there is a little of god in everything.

2. Fielding: The relationship of the white people with the locals reminded Aaron of the current Singapore’s situation. Alex commented that it might not be a race issue, but a power one, between the oppressor and the oppressed.

3. Homoeroticism: We pointed out several scenes of homoeroticism. Alex suggested the stud ripping the small hole in shirt is metaphorical. Aaron read the last scene of the book full of significance. Raj thinks that there is something going on between Aziz and Ralph, not Fielding.

4. Nature: The issue of whether Aziz attacks Adela in the cave cannot be resolved but the cave, as part of nature, is interesting because, as Alex pointed out, it is a space of nothingness. Aaron suggested that the space is a space of honesty, where one could finally be honest to oneself, which leads one to a kind of epiphany. Alex asked, “But why doesn’t Aziz get an epiphany?”

5. Racism: Timmy asked if this book exoticizes India. Raj, perhaps the person who is most qualified to answer the quesion, said no firmly as Forster, Raj claimed, understood the Indians very well and portrayed the Indians accurately, no less, no more.

We forgot to talk about religion.

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