A Passage to India
Contrasting Regions Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
[Mrs. Moore] would never visit Asirgarh or the other untouched places […] she longed to stop, though it was only Bombay, and disentangle the hundred Indias that passed each other in its streets. (2.23.4)
The problem with viewing the Marabar Caves as a symbol for India is that the novel turns right back around and says that no, India is not reducible to the caves. Along Mrs. Moore's ride to Bombay, the novel keeps stressing that there's a whole world of Indias to discover along the way.
The Marabar Caves had been a terrible strain on the local administration; they altered a good many lives and wrecked several careers, but they did not break up a continent or even dislocate a district. (2.25.45)
If we were to follow the reading of the caves as a symbol for India here, this passage seems to revert back to the stereotypical view of the Oriental as passive and incapable of worldly action. Like Hamidullah's committees, the Marabar Caves can't really do anything against the British. It's no more than a momentary nuisance.
Perhaps life is a mystery, not a muddle; they could not tell. Perhaps the hundred Indias which fuss and squabble so tiresomely are one, and the universe they mirror is one. [Fielding and Adela] had not the apparatus for judging. (2.29.17)
This quote again reinforces the image of India as a "muddle," something confusing and hard to pin down, completely foreign to Westerners such as Fielding and Adela.