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A Passage to India

A Passage to India

by E.M. Forster

Justice and Judgment Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"[…] We're out here to do justice and keep the peace. Them's my sentiments. India isn't a drawing-room."

"Your sentiments are those of a god," [Mrs. Moore] said quietly, but it was his manner rather than his sentiments that annoyed her.

Trying to recover his temper, [Ronny] said, "India likes gods."

"And Englishmen like posing as gods." (1.5.88-91)

As the Civil Magistrate (i.e., the local judge) Ronny represents the British idea of colonial justice. Justice isn't an abstract ideal, but a way of "keeping the peace" – of controlling the "natives." This inevitably entails the feeling that the British are far superior to the Indians. Ronny's comment that "India likes gods" is a reference to the many religions of India: he's suggesting that in this mess of religious diversity, the British can bring order.

Quote #2

"All unfortunate natives are criminals at heart, for the simple reason that they live south of latitude 30." (2.18.1)

Here, McBryde professes his racist view of Indian psychology as a scientific fact: according to McBryde, it's the geographical location that makes the Indians criminal. Of course, this doesn't explain why someone like himself, who was born in Karachi, happens to be a policeman. Ironically, McBryde is discovered to be having an affair later in the novel.

Quote #3

[Fielding] had not gone mad at the phrase "an English girl fresh from England," he had not rallied to the banner of race. He was still after facts, though the herd had decided on emotion. Nothing enraged Anglo-India more than the lantern of reason if it is exhibited for one moment after its extinction is decreed. (2.17.23)

The irony of the British colonial justice system is that justice is administered by the British, whose actions are colored, literally, by their racial views. Their racial hatred is cruelly ironic considering that their view of the superiority of the white race is based on the supposed fact that the white race is more "rational."

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