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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
A Passage To India is set in the early twentieth century when the arrogance of the colonialist British ruling class in India conflicts with the native pride of the Indian people. Most of the action takes place in Chandrapore, India, a fictitious township. It is the summer months, and the intense heat makes people irritable and lethargic. Later, the novel moves west to Hindustan, in a place called Mau.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Dr. Aziz - an Indian Muslim doctor. He is a widower who loved his wife so much that he has refused to agree with his mother's suggestions that he should remarry. He begins as a gentleman who accepts the English rulers and tries to live according to their dictates, although not happily. Although somewhat innocent, he is learned, fair-minded, generous, and ignorant of subtle British customs.
Ronny Heaslop - a British District Magistrate. He is the son of Mrs. Moore and fiancé of Adela Quested. He has neither sympathy nor understanding of India, the Indian culture, or the attitude of the Indians to life. He believes that the only way to rule the Indians is by subduing them, controlling them, and even insulting them on occasions. He is so opposed to the natives that he does not want his mother to communicate or interact with Indians. He is one of many arrogant British bureaucrats who ruled over India without understanding.
Cyril Fielding - the Principal of Chandrapore College, where young Indians are educated in the British style. As a single, older Englishman, Cyril is tolerant and finds it easy to interact with Indians as well as with Englishmen. There is no feeling of racial superiority in him. He is, in Forster's words, a " large shaggy type with sprawling limbs and blue eyes." He is also scholastic, thoughtful, believes in the value of education, and is popular with his students. He is at his best, however, in private conversation. The English men tolerate him, but English women dislike him because he is not a real Sahib.
Adela Quested - the British fiancée of Ronny Heaslop. She comes to India with Mrs. Moore as a prospective bride for Ronny. She, like her future mother-in-law, is a sensitive person who does not especially like the behavior of the British in India. As a thinking woman, she is interested in learning about India and rather ambivalent about her engagement. Well-meaning, she falls victim to her own imagination.