A Postcolonial Reading of a Passage to India

Abstract: In 1924, E. M. Forster churned out his masterpiece A Passage to India, which is a popular and critical success in literary history. For more than eighty years, critics have read and interpreted it from considerably diverse dimensions of politics, religion, race and culture. Most of them believe that A Passage to India had more political intentions than anything else. However, Forster declared that the political moral is not the only purpose in the novel:“In writing it, however, my main purpose was not political, was not even sociological”.1 If the readers care to inquire what the main purpose is, it is essential to penetrate the vision to a wider range than politics.The title of this novel is from the long poem“Passage to India”by Whitman, the American romantic poet. Forster is famous for his theme of“Only connect”in most of his novels, which got a perfect expression in A Passage to India. In this his masterpiece, the topic of“only connect”is centered on by the cultural conflicts and alienation between countries, races or different classes to quest the connection between England and her colony. This novel is said to be a thorn at colonialism at early stages.A Passage to India is believed as a good literary text to postcolonial study concerning Orientalism, ethnicity and hybridity and so forth. Therefore, in this thesis we will take the view of Said’s Orientalism, from race, gender and culture three aspects, to discuss the clashes existing in this novel.The first chapter analyses race clash. The description of the disruptive configuration of the small city Chandrapore implies the racial division of the colonizers and the colonized; and the Marabar Caves, the symbolic place for India, are described as mysterious and romantic viewed from a distance, but monotonous and chaotic if being approached. The darkness and the monotonous and mysterious echoes symbolize that India is an inaccessible place. The social repression of the colonizers on the colonized is the most direct expression of racial clash. The second chapter analyzes gender clash. The couple, Ronny and Adela, eventually departs from each other because of their different opinions and attitude towards the native Indians. The most centralized embodiment of the clash between Aziz and Adela is the Marabar episode, and the true reason resulting in this event is Adela’s discrimination towards Aziz and Indians. The marginalization of women is an important reflection of gender clash. The third chapter analyzes culture clash. This chapter will discuss the cultural conflicts between the two nations from three perspectives, from different characters, from different religious beliefs and the cultural hegemony over cultural connection.This thesis will finally suggest that the real friendship and connection between the people of the two nations cannot be really attained before the colonialism is completely eradicated, the spiritual gulf is overcome and the international equality is genuinely achieved…
Key words: Clash; Colonialism ; Race; Gender; Culture

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