A Passage to India
by E.M. Forster
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
"Friends again," begins the last chapter of A Passage to India, but despite this promising beginning, we're hardly left with an image of brotherly love. The last chapter follows Fielding and Aziz as they ride on horseback through a monsoon-soaked Mau. The confusion about Fielding's marriage has finally been cleared up, and even though Aziz now knows that Fielding did not marry Adela, the two can't return to the easy friendship of the good old days in Chandrapore. As the novel explains, both of their political attitudes have become more extreme. Whereas earlier in the novel, an independent India was for Aziz just a poetic fantasy, he is now committed to Indian nationalism. And Fielding is no longer appreciative of Indian culture and society, as he ridicules the idea that India has what it takes to thrive as an independent nation, free from British control.
Even though they take pleasure in sparring over politics, the novel's last paragraph emphasizes how distanced they've become. Despite the promising beginning of the chapter, the novel ends with the earth itself uttering with "its hundred voices, 'No, not yet,'" and the sky chiming in, "No, not there" (3.37.29). These lines suggest that the historical moment – early 20th century colonial India – places insuperable barriers against a friendship between an Englishman and an Indian. Whether this comment is a pessimistic statement about the impossibility of interracial friendship, or just another way of putting the novel's own exploration of the possibility of unity despite differences, is left up in the air.