A Passage to India
by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India Part 2, Chapter 24 Summary
- After Mrs. Moore leaves, Adela goes to stay with the Turtons. On the morning of the trial, she prays, which she hasn't done in a while. The Turtons ask her if she's ready, and she has a sip of brandy. She complains of an echo in her ear.
- They arrive at the courthouse. They have to take a special entrance because of a few Indian students who are protesting in front.
- Mrs. Turton makes some nasty remarks about how the Indians should be quashed. Mr. Turton ignores her and thinks to himself that women make running India difficult.
- They meet with Ronny and other Anglo-Indians in Ronny's office at the courthouse. Because of conflict of interest, Ronny can't preside over the trial, so his assistant, Mr. Das, an Indian, will preside.
- Ronny thinks that the switch is actually a good thing. They know the verdict's guilty, so they may as well have an Indian break the bad news. Mrs. Turton again makes some comments about how weak the men are being and how the Indians should be "spat" upon (2.24.41)
- They all enter the courtroom together, preceded by special chairs to make them appear more dignified than the rest of the attendees at the trial.
- The first thing that Adela notices is the punkah wallah, the Indian guy who pulls the fan. He's of a very humble birth and happens to be quite attractive.
- As Adela ogles the punkah wallah, the trial is underway.
- Mr. McBryde opens the case for the prosecution. He presents various details about the picnic. But he can't help digressing into one of his favorite topics: "Oriental Pathology." That is, bad things "Orientals," including Indians, do (for more on Orientalism, see our discussion in "Race," under "Themes"). He notes that Orientals tend to be attracted to whites, but not the other way around.
- Somebody in the audience asks him whether this is the case when the woman is far less attractive than the man. Since they can't figure out who exactly said it, they kick out some random guy in the audience.
- Adela trembles at this insult. Major Callendar claims that Adela is unwell and demands that she be seated on the same raised platform as the magistrate, where the air is cooler. The other Anglo-Indians follow Adela and Callendar to the platform. They are all now facing the rest of the courtroom. The only European who isn't with them is Fielding, who sits in the audience with the rest of the Indians.
- Mahmoud Ali and Amritrao, a famous barrister from Calcutta, both of whom are defending Aziz, protest at the presence of so many Anglo-Indians on the platform.
- Mr. Das orders everyone except Adela off the platform. While men such as Mr. Turton and Ronny agree readily, but the women are less pleased. Adela follows everyone off the platform.
- Mr. McBryde continues presenting the case. After blasting Aziz's character, he adds that Aziz was also cruel to Mrs. Moore.
- The name "Mrs. Moore" sets off another ruckus in the courtroom.
- Mahmoud Ali accuses McBryde of shipping Mrs. Moore off to England so she wouldn't give evidence exonerating Aziz.
- Das tells everyone that they can't talk about Mrs. Moore because she isn't present to give evidence.
- Mahmoud Ali leaves the courtroom in indignation. Everyone in the courtroom and in the street chant "Mrs. Moore," but it sounds like they're saying "Esmiss Esmoor."
- Finally, things calm down after Amritrao apologizes for Mahmoud Ali's behavior and the crowds stop chanting "Esmiss Esmoor."
- Now it's Adela's turn to take the stand. Oddly, Adela finally feels okay. She feels the air from the punkah wafting over her as she feels herself actually transported back in time to the caves. She feels as if she's giving evidence from that distant point in time and space, not in the actual courtroom.
- Mr. McBryde asks Adela whether the defendant and the guide took her to the caves at the Kawa Dol. She replies that they did.
- Mr. McBryde asks Adela whether Aziz followed her into the cave. Here, Adela hesitates. She still feels as though she's at the caves, but she doesn't see Aziz there.
- Adela denies that the prisoner followed her. McBryde presses her, but she insists.
- Now the whole courtroom is thrown into chaos.
- Das declares that Aziz is free. Everyone on the Indian side of the courtroom, including Fielding, cheers. Mrs. Turton yells at Adela. Somehow the court empties, and the only being left behind is the punkah wallah.
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