A Passage to India talks about the British colonial rule in India. Set in the small city of Chandrapore, the book examines British bureaucracy, besides the cultural and racial problems between the Indians and their western rulers. The novel also describes relationships between people of both cultures, mainly the one between Dr. Aziz, a Muslim Indian, and Mr. Fielding, a British professor who stands by his Indian friend when he is accused by Miss Quested, an English woman, of harassment. Eventually Miss Quested realizes that she might have been hallucinating, and withdraws her accusation against Dr. Aziz.
E.M. Forster through his novel wants to show us the horrific truth of colonialism and how such political issues and cultural clashes can become personal and separate a strong friendship. Through the portrayal of the relationship between Dr. Aziz and Mr. Fielding, we are questioned about whether an Indian and a British can be friends (during colonialism).
“It is impossible here!” This is the response Dr. Aziz receives from his Indian friend, after he asks him whether Indians and British can be friends. His friend tells him this since there is disharmony between both sides. The British officials snub and treat the locals with disdain and inferiority. Mr. Turton, Mr. McBryde and Major Callendar are portrayed as supercilious and arrogant, who simply cannot mix with Indians, isolating themselves from the locals. Mr. Turton, realizing that two English women, Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested want to meet Indians, organizes a bridge party. At the party the division between the cultures is evident, as all Indians are on one side and all the British on the other. Mrs. Turton tells Mrs. Moore who is keen on meeting the Indian ladies at the party, “You’re superior to them, anyway. Don’t forget that. You’re superior to everyone in India except one or two ranis, and they’re on equality.”