Study Guide

A Passage to India Part 3, Chapter 36

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Part 3, Chapter 36

  • A procession has begun to head down from the palace to the river. Aziz returns to his home to pick up a salve for Ralph's bee sting, and heads over to the European Guest House, where Fielding is staying with Ralph and Stella.
  • On the way, he sees a boat in the Mau tank, a kind of reservoir – it's the Guest House boat, in which Aziz assumes Fielding and the other British guests are rowing. He cynically thinks that the whole thing about "seeing India" is just another way of "ruling India," seeing it in order to control it.
  • Believing everyone to be out on the river, he goes on to the Guest House anyway, thinking there might be some servants there he can pump for information.
  • In the Guest House, he finds two letters on the piano. One of the letters is from Ronny Heaslop, who tells Fielding to take care of Ralph, whom he considers to be in need of care. Ronny also forgives Fielding for marrying his step-sister, and tells Fielding to tell Adela that he'd like to make up to her, too.
  • Ronny mentions some of the troubles he's been encountering in his new job, but blames it on the Jews.
  • The second letter is from Adela, which mentions her feeling a "debt" to India, a phrase that mystifies Aziz. Generally, he's annoyed by how chummy they all are, referring to each other by their first names, as if nothing had happened. He bangs the keys out of irritation.
  • He's interrupted by Ralph Moore. When Ralph confronts Aziz about his rudeness, Aziz counters that the English, specifically Adela, haven't been all to kind to him either.
  • Aziz offers Ralph his hand, and his attitude softens toward Ralph. Ralph doesn't find him unkind anymore, and Aziz notes how similar Ralph is to his mother in the way that he can tell whether a stranger is his friend or not instantly. But he also adds that he can't be Ralph's friend because Ralph is also related to Ronny Heaslop.
  • Thinking fondly of Mrs. Moore, Aziz decides that he should take Ralph out onto the tank to see the procession as an homage to Mrs. Moore. They row past an image of the Rajah's father on a tomb.
  • Aziz tries to keep their boat out of the procession's way, for fear of offending the Hindus. He mentions that the Rajah is actually dead, a secret that's been withheld from the public so that the festivities can go on unperturbed.
  • Amidst much singing, Krishna's float appears in the water. Aziz sees Godbole waving his arms at him, but he's not sure why. The float of the village Gokul is also brought out into the water.
  • All of a sudden, Aziz's boat collides with Fielding's, and they all tumble into the water.
  • In the general confusion, the whole celebration also comes to a climax with gunfire, drumbeating, and elephant-trumpeting.
  • They pick themselves out of the water, ignored by the celebrants, who head back to town.

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