A Passage to India Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
"After all, it's our women who make everything more difficult out here," was his inmost thought […] (2.24.23)
Turton airs a common cliché at the time that women made governing India difficult for the British. As objects of erotic temptation for Indians, white women cause conflicts, such as Adela's trial. (See Quote #8 under "Race" for more on this idea.)
"Exactly, and remember it afterwards, you men. You're weak, weak, weak. Why, they ought to crawl from here to the caves on their hands and knees whenever an Englishwoman's in sight, they oughtn't to be spoken to, they ought to be spat at, they ought to be ground into the dust, we've been far too kind with our Bridge Parties and the rest." (2.24.41)
Mrs. Turton reveals here a much nastier racism than her husband's. "Ground into the dust"? That sounds like genocide. Mrs. Turton's comment also happens to be a reference to the British reaction to the supposed attack on a white missionary woman in 1919, which led to the infamous Amritsar massacre, where hundreds of innocent Indians were killed. (See "Setting" for more on the Amritsar massacre.)
Adela had always meant to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and she had rehearsed this as a difficult task – difficult, because her disaster in the cave was connected, though by a thread, with another part of her life, her engagement to Ronny […] Smoothly the voice in the distance proceeded, leading along the paths of truth, and the airs from the punkah behind her wafted her on … (2.24.117)
This passage shows Adela at her finest moment, but also at one of her most problematic. Note that it's the punkah wallah's fan that "waft[s]" her to the truth. (Recall that the punkah wallah is really good looking.) Is Adela freed of her hallucination because she's being guided by her desire for the "darker" race? Is this a twisted version of Adela getting her groove back? Wouldn't that be an equally patronizing view of women? Instead of rationally thinking through her experience like a man would (like Fielding), Adela can only come to the truth via her sexual desire for somebody else?