Volume 71, Issue 2, Spring 2019
Mary A. Melfi
The Solidity of the Self
Turning and Returning in A Passage to India
In A Passage to India, E.M. Forster examines the duality of three main characters, Mrs. Moore, Aziz, and Fielding and thereby demonstrates their relative stability in the primordial chaos of India. Unlike Adela who falls apart after her experience in the cave, these characters draw on the power of the imagination in a grappling struggle to remain morally centered when facing the darkness within. Forster suggests that turning to the East (where the Marabar caves represent darkness and destabilization) contrasts with returning to the West (where imaginative form represents order and light). In Mrs. Moore, Aziz, and Fielding, Forster examines the manner in which one might embrace a centered life committed to empathy for others by way of facing one’s own otherness. As these characters immerse themselves in India’s primordial formlessness and acknowledge their shadows, they embrace imaginative form rather than fall apart, and in doing so they serve as models of mythmakers and relative stability.