The mystery behind the fan boy.
In Foster's A passage to India, many characters appear throughout the novel. Some of them may have a more important part to play in the story than others, but one minor character catches our attention: he is the punkah wallah or the fan boy. Even though he appears for a brief period, he serves a higher purpose which we will analyze and study closely. First, we will observe how the punkah wallah creates some sort of sexual image for Adela. Second, we will talk about the clashes between social classes and races. Third, we will treat his divine aspect. Fourth, we will study the impervious aspect that the punkah carries. Finally, we will analyze how the punkah serves as eye opener for Adela and her desires.
As we know through the story many incidents occur; one noticeable is the incident in the Marabar caves. Indeed this incident was triggered when Dr.Aziz and Adela were together in the caves; Nobody actually knows what really happened inside but after they got out, Adela accused Aziz of sexual abuse and rape. Prior to this accusation, Adela and Aziz seemed to be in love as we can observe on page 66 "he sputtered, and let go of her hand" showing that they were holding hands like a couple. Now the punkah wallah doesn't appear in this passage but he creates a sexual image. Through the of the fan boy, and as we know no description is innocent, we can relate to Adela and her desires. Indeed now we know that something definitely happened in the caves but we can't tell what. There are many theories but the fact that Aziz lit a cigarette after getting out the caves indicates to a sexual intercourse. Adela noticed the punkah wallah, as minor as he seems, between all of the people that were present in the room. This can be attributed to the fact that the punkah wallah had some similarities with Aziz as they were both Indians. Furthermore, the fan boy was naked and was performing movements that were similar to a man having sex, "rhythmically to agitate the clouds" (p101). This Indian naked figure, agitating back and forth, caught Adela's attention as if she was dreaming of what happened in the caves with Aziz creating sexual images in her mind.
In this paragraph, we will see how the punkah wallah ignites a clash between classes and races. Indeed this small figure is in the middle of a room where a process is being held, a process about the incident between Aziz and Adela. Now this incident as we might know is between a white English woman and a native Indian, in the form of Adela and Aziz respectively. Adela accuses Aziz not of rape but rather of an insult even though he denies it and is eventually put in jail for what he might or might not have done. If it were the other way around and Adela was a native Indian and Aziz an Englishman this would not have taken such importance. Indeed, this goes to show that there is a difference between the Indians and the English both socially and racially. As we can see in Brenda...