A Passage to India
How we cite our quotes:
One touch of regret – not the canny substitute but the t rue regret from the heart – would have made him a different man, and the British Empire a different institution.
"I'm going to argue, and indeed dictate," she said, clinking her rings. "The English are out here to be pleasant." (1.5.94)
The passage suggests that Ronny's attitude is representative of the British Empire's as a whole toward its "civilizing mission." By questioning Ronny, Mrs. Moore questions the whole notion of a civilizing mission here. Ronny's callous attitude toward Indians suggests that the civilizing mission is just an excuse to gain power, and no more.
[Major Callendar] never realized that the educated Indians visited one another constantly, and were weaving, however painfully, a new social fabric. (1.6.7)
Because they view Indians as essentially passive and unable to act, British administrators such as Major Callendar can't see that Indians are organizing for their independence. Ironically, these different religious groups are finally able to come together because they have a common enemy – the British Empire.
Hamidullah had called in on his way to a worrying committee of notables, nationalist in tendency, where Hindus, Moslems, two Sikhs, two Parsis, a Jain and a Native Christian tried to like one another more than came natural to them. As long as someone abused the English, all went well, but nothing constructive had been achieved, and if the English were to leave India, the committee would vanish also. (1.9.38)
This passage shows how difficult it was to bridge the numerous religious differences among the Indians, despite their having a common enemy in the British. As history bears out, some of these differences were insuperable: 1947 marked the year that India gained its independence at the same time that Pakistan was separated off as an independent Muslim state.