The Important Role of the Marabar Caves in A Passage to India

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The Important Role of the Marabar Caves in A Passage to India

During the fourteen years that followed the publication of Howards

End, Edward Morgan Forster underwent a harsh mood change that culminated in

the publication of A Passage to India, Forster's bitterest book (Shusterman

159). Forster was not alone in his transition to a harsher tone in his

fiction. A Passage to India was written in the era that followed the First

World War. George Thomson writes that the novel "may be viewed as a reaction

to the disappearance of God in the nineteenth century.... Twentieth century

writers have symbolized this world without God as a wasteland" (293). Post-

war writers were appalled by the atrocities brought about by war and,

therefore, concluded that Earth is not overseen by a God. Rather, they

believed that the world was, in a sense, empty. Nowhere can this

emptiness be seen better than in the second of the novel's three major

sections, "Caves." Thomson writes that this section is "a great wasteland

image in which...the Marabar expresses the nonexistence of God" (293).

"Caves" begins as the story's major characters make a journey to the

mystifying Marabar Caves. In the monotony, hollowness, and evanescent

beauty of the Marabar Caves is revealed a truth about the universe that

Mrs. Moore and Adela are unable to accept, but by which both characters

are affected, as well as Aziz, who may have suffered the most severe

consequences of the three.

Forster foreshadows the important role that the Marabar Caves

will play in A Passage to India in the novel's first line. Forster writes,


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... Works Cited

Brown, E.K. "Rhythm in E.M. Forster's A Passage to India." Forster. Ed. Malcolm Bradbury. New Jersey: Prentice, 1966. 144-59.

Forster, E.M. A Passage to India. New York: Harcourt, 1924.

Kelvin, Norman. "A Passage to India." E.M. Forster. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1967. 126-42.

MacAulay, Rose. "A Passage to India." The Writings of E.M. Forster. New York: Barnes, 1970. 176-203.

Shusterman, David. "A Passage to India: Synthesis Broken, or No One is India." The Quest for Certitude in E.M. Forster's Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana UP,

1965, 158-204.

Thomson, G.H. The Fiction of E.M. Forster. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1967.


Wilde, Alan. "A Passage to India." Art and Order. New York: New York UP, 1964. 123-58.
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