A Passage to India
Life, Consciousness, Existence Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually. (1.3.9)
Here, Forster brings up the idea that life never fits in our neat little plans. This passage compactly summarizes what happens to Adela and the rest of the characters in the novel. Adela doesn't get thrilling, romantic India: she gets a hallucination in a cave and a rape trial.
"A mystery is only a high-sounding term for a muddle. No advantage in stirring it up, in either case. Aziz and I know well that India's a muddle." (1.7.71)
In this passage, Fielding challenges the idea that India is a "mystery." A mystery implies that there's some truth to discover that will clear up the mystery. In India's case, the mystery could be cleared up by some definitive conclusion as to what India really is. Instead, Fielding says India is a "muddle." There's no truth that can possibly clear up what India is because India isn't anything: it's a muddle.
The crush and the smells [Mrs. Moore] could forget, but the echo began in some indescribable way to undermine her hold on life. Coming at a moment when she chanced to be fatigued, it had managed to murmur, "Pathos, piety, courage – they exist, but are identical, and so is filth. Everything exists, nothing has value." If one had spoken vileness in that place, or quoted lofty poetry, the comment would have been the same – "ou-boum." (2.14.98)
In the cave, Mrs. Moore experiences an echo that reduces all of her values to nothingness. Earlier in the novel, she had chastised Ronny and preached the Christian virtue of love. But here in the cave, Mrs. Moore experiences a kind of sonic confusion roughly similar to what happens to you after standing next to a speaker at a rock concert for four hours. Everything becomes muffled and muddled. "Pathos, piety, courage" are no longer elevated words that celebrate human endeavor; they are just the same as "filth."