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Home » , » A Passage to India is basically about the clash of two cultures, Do you agree?
'A Passage to India' deals with the difficulties men face in their effort to understand each other and the world they live in. Forster sees the British rule as a corruption influence on both the rulers and the ruled. Forster's criticism of imperialism is based on ethical rather than political convictions. A Passage to India is basically about the clash of two cultures.
the clash of two cultures

We see in the very first chapter of the novel that Chandrapore is two towns, the English civil station and the native section, the one having nothing to do with the other. The civil station "shares nothing with the city except the over arching sky". This division in the landscape is symptomatic of the wide gulf that separates the rulers from the ruled. Forster thinks that it is not possible for an Indian to be a friend of an Englishman as long as the English remain unfeeling, proud and automatic towards the Indians. In their dealings with the Indians, the British as a class, operate only at the level of political and social duty.

Thus the ruling Anglo-Indians think of their rule as a burden nobly borne by them in order to civilize the native barbarians. This imperialistic prejudice produces a rigid system in which humanity has been harshly divided into the whites and the coloured. The Anglo-Indians act as a herd, united in their vicious contempt and hatred for the native Indians, whom they despise as belonging to an inferior race. They have built round themselves a rigid barrier of conventions, rank, and position, and feeling. Safe and superior behind this fence of conventions, they look down upon the Indians outside with contempt and disdain. Fearful of the primitive Indians outside, they always feel the need of sticking together, of keeping in step with others in order not to fall behind the herd.

The most frightening expression of this herd-felling is, of course, visible, when the largest numbers of them are gathered together in their club at the Bridge Party, arranged in honour of the new comers, Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested. Some of the distinguished Indians are also invited to the party to bridge the gulf between the British and the Indians. But the Anglo-Indians as a group are simply not interested in their talking to the Indians, they themselves have invited. As a result, the Indians who attend the party on goodwill, feel extremely humiliated.

This mass-hysteria of the Anglo-Indians may also be seen in the trial scene. Their collective concern in the trial scene, is not justice for Adela, but to achieve the utmost humiliation of the Indians. Forster shows how their mass-hysteria can, on critical situations, lead them towards uncontrollable evil.

Forster's view is that the British do not care to understand the true nature of India and the Indians and that is why their rule is unsuccessful.


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