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Home » , » Write a brief note on narrative technique in A Passage to India?
E.M. Forster uses a traditional method of telling his story in A Passage to India. It is that of an omniscient narrator who overviews the action, comments from any angle and can enter the mind of any character. This narrator has a distinctive voice. He is humane, cultured, sceptical and ironic, but is also capable of modulating his voice to capture a tone of lyrical aspiration and wistful sadness. It is a voice, one images, not unlike E.M. Forster's own. A number of distinctive English, Anglo-Indian and Indian voices are dramatised within it, but it is this voice that dominates and prevails.
note on narrative technique in A Passage to India

The omniscient narrator introduces and sets the tone for each section. He shapes and controls the direction of the text, meditating between the different racial groups and the interplay of different kinds of language. For example, the opening chapter gives us an overview of Chandrapore and its distinctive natural and social geography. Chapter 2 takes us into the Indian quarters where we listen to the colonisers discussing their masters. Then we move on to the Civil Station, the mosque and the club where we eavesdrop on the prejudiced opinion of the Anglo-Indians. The short chapter 4 begins by nothing the Indian response to the invitations to the Bridge-Partu before the narrator pauses to gives us a more extended meditation on the nature of invitations. By doing this, the narrator clearly underlines one of the themes that is central to the narrative.

The reader's eye and imagination are taken from the deep human division at ground level, through the predatory hierarchy of kites and culture to the 'overarching sky' introduced in chapter I, and then still further, before returning to earth abruptly in a shift that implies both comic anticlimax and something sadder, the limitations of the human spirit. Metaphysical speculation on a cosmic scale that exposes all human pretension gives way abruptly to the trivial social round once again. In such a manner, the omniscient narrator is constantly present in the text, observing, judging and commenting on the action, chapters 1,4,10,12,23,28 and 32 are almost entirely given up to the narrator and his speculative moralising, either directly in the manner of an essayist, or obliquely through the thoughts of his characters.

To sum up, it is omniscient narrator who navigates the reader through their own "Passage to India" seeking, but unable to decipher, some of the contradictory messages of India's 'hundred voices', unable to decide whether India is a muddle or a mystery. As the text progresses, the comic mimicry, the deflating asides, begin to fade and the tone of religious quest amplifies, but unlike his nineteenth-century precursors, E.M. Forster's controlling narrative voice does not provide much reassurance, only tentative questions, "God is Love". This is perhaps the final message of India.


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