A Passage to India
Race Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
He replied in an odd, sad, voice, "I don't hate them, I don't know why," and he didn't hate them; for if he did, he would have had to condemn his own career as a bad investment. (2.24.23)
Mr. Turton's racism is distinguished from Mrs. Turton's racism in Quote #3 of this theme. The problem is that part of the reason the British are in India is the moral argument that they're there to civilize the "natives," that it is their duty as the superior civilization to help "inferior" civilizations become modern and progressive. But that civilizing mission, Kipling's "white man's burden," assumes that the native is improvable. That's why Mr. Turton can't be as racist as Mrs. Turton: if he were, he'd have to reject his whole career as pointless.
[McBryde] remarked that the darker races are physically attracted by the fairer, but not vice versa – not a matter for bitterness this, not a matter for abuse, but just a fact which any scientific observer would confirm. (2.24.47)
McBryde is stating here a commonly held belief at the time that "darker" races are attracted to the white races, and that white women have to be protected from "darker" men. Much anthropology of the period was devoted to proving this so-called "fact." McBryde's racism leads him to believe that Aziz has attacked Adela, even though Adela never actually comes out and says that he has.
This restfulness of gesture – it is the Peace that passeth Understanding, after all, it is the social equivalent of Yoga. When the whirring of action ceases, it becomes visible, and reveals a civilization which the West can disturb but never acquire. (2.27.17)
The novel clearly disparages the racism of a McBryde or Turton. Here it counters the racist attitude that Indians are uncivilized by showing how Indians are actually more civilized than the British. Their culture seeps into their very movements, giving them a grace that a Turton or a McBryde could never acquire. But it's hard to read this passage without thinking that the novel goes a little overboard in its romantic portrayal of the sensual Indian – again, an Oriental stereotype.