A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

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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 wrot...

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... could certainly have treated the Indians more respectfully, and thus acted more harmoniously, without having been friends. Perhaps, Forster simply is commenting that ‘we' as a human culture are not in that place yet, a place where we can develop and maintain successful cross-cultural relationships. Forster does suggest though that a combination of respect for people as individuals and a belief in the uniformity and unity of man may help us arrive at a place where there is openness and understanding—a place in which we can be friends. Using his novel as his tool, Forster builds for us a model by which we can learn to see past the boundaries which divide us, preventing us from living in union and harmony. And he tells a story too.
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