Study Guide

The Subaltern in A Passage to India

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The Subaltern

The subaltern, a British soldier, only makes two appearances in the novel. The subaltern gives us the military perspective on colonial India. In his first appearance, he plays polo with Aziz. Here, he represents the military fraternity, and can appreciate Aziz as a fellow sportsman, even if Aziz happens to be from a different culture. Later at the club meeting before Adela's trial, the subaltern makes some nasty cracks about Indians and threatens Fielding. At this point, he represents the military perspective, where force is the preferred way to run a country, and rights and civil liberties are disposable.

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