Current book: A Passage to India
Pages read: 162 - 250
Things are rotten in the state of Bihar. It turns out that Ms. Quested is accusing Aziz of trying to proposition her in the cave, or something along those lines, so he's in a great deal of trouble. Ronny, the magistrate-fiance, is, of course, incensed, and all the local British legal power is being brought to bear on the case. The situation, of course, goes far beyond the surface level, and is clearly representative of the years of racial tension that have preceded it. Anyway, so Mr. Fielding, who has long been Aziz's friend, leaps to his defense, insisting that he can't possibly have committed the crime, and thereby alienating himself from the entire British community. Mrs. Moore also believes that Aziz is innocent, and frankly, Ms. Quested just seems confused and befuddled most of the time. All of the Brits have rallied around her and are providing her with a lot of sympathy that is a lot more about the political situation than it is about Adela, but there you go.
Tensions increase as the trial approaches, and Mrs. Moore eventually washes her hands of the whole thing and sets sail for England when riots break out. At the trial, there's a lot of posturing on both sides, some indications that the British are playing fast and loose with trial law, and a lot of anger from the crowd outside. None of that matters, however, because when Adela gets up to testify, she recants and drops the charges. Everything is immediately thrown into chaos, and Mr. Fielding ends up having to spirit Adela away to the college where he teaches. Ronny finds her there and they agree that it's best if she stays there for a few days while things quiet down. She had previously been staying at another British family's house, but now that she's gone back on her testimony, she, too, has become a social pariah. Ronny also tells her that his mother, Mrs. Moore, died on the way back to England. (Which, honestly, is kind of random, but whatever.)
I feel that Forster's characterization of the inherent problems of colonization is just about perfect. His portrayal of the Raj is spot-on from what I know of it (which is a considerable amount, most of which I learned from a really excellent book called Ideologies of the Raj). There's a lot of complexity in the role of women in British India, since they need to be protected from Indian men but are also drawn to them, and also in the British position itself, what with the conflicting ideas of patriarchal responsibility to civilize the people of India and an inherent disrespect and hatred of them. So, well done, Forster. I...have no complaints?
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