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A Passage To India By E.M. Forster

2985 words - 12 pages

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster Upon a most rudimentary evaluation, A Passage to India is simply a story, a tale of two countries through which we follow a handful of central characters. As readers, we watch as these characters travel from England to India, into mosques and temples and through caves. We are given a window through which to view their interactions and whereabouts. It is undeniable that A Passage to India tells a story, however; to say that telling a story is all Forster does in A Passage to India seems to attenuate the accomplishment of his novel. The appeal of A Passage to India, the life of the novel, lies not in its story, but in the way Forster uses language to persuade readers to broaden their outlooks and to see that those who we may consider less intelligent or sophisticated than we, are, at heart, not so different, and the boundaries which we see as separating us are not as distinct as we would like to imagine. Forster uses his novel to suggest that much like the way any two sounds, no matter how different, brought before a hollow cave, will produce identical echoes, examined on their own, apart from the cultures which have come to define them, any two seemingly different people, no matter how superficially different they are, are at core, one and the same.
When Forester wrote A Passage to India, it was not a tale of some distant past or future. The novel, mirroring actual current events of the time, was written during the period when the British government was officially ruling India. The novel was relevant and current when it was published, and like any well-thought-out evaluation of a current issue, Forster's words had the potential to impact the sentiments of all those involved with the British Empire in India and the rest of the world looking on. Given the timeframe of British Empire in India, and the publication date of the novel, it is clear that there was more at stake than merely the telling of a story. (Of course, Forster's message and the lessons it attempts to teach can be more broadly applied as well.) Whether or not Forster's ideas were effectively adopted at the time of the novel's publication or now is hard to evaluate, but he certainly makes a convincing and persuasive, if somewhat wavering, argument for viewing even those who we govern, even those who are weaker than ourselves, as equals and as parts of the same whole. Forster uses his novel to tell a story, but he also uses it to smudge boundary lines—between races, between countries, and even between human and...

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