Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
The final, and probably most important, theme is chaos vs. peace. In the caves, mystery and chaos prevail, as symbolized in the horrible echoes and the imagined attacks on Mrs. Moore and Adela. The caves are much more mysterious that their outward appearance indicates. Older than Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism, the caves represent the chaotic nothingness of existence before God created order. The caves are not evil; they simply bring out mankind's despair, indifference, and cruelty. Both Mrs. Moore's Christianity (love) and Adela's liberal attitude (understanding) are challenged in the caves; even the Muslim Indians have a fear of the cave.
When Adela went into the cave, she was forced to face the foolishness of her engagement to Ronny. She was forced to choose whether she wanted to enter into an empty bond of marriage. The deafening echo that she hears is really her resounding conscience that seems to say that such a choice would leave her living in sin. She is left to realize that a marriage without love, and out of convenience, amounts to "rape," exactly what she thinks has happened in the darkness of the cave.
A positive affirmation is asserted in the last section of the novel. The Hindu temple dominates and overshadows the caves, suggesting that God is superior to everything evil and goodness will prevail. As a picture of hope, Mrs. Moore is seen reborn in her son Ralph. The monsoon season passes, having germinated seeds and watered plants. For this reason, Aziz dares to hope at the end of the novel, that out of the chaos of British rule will come the goodness of Indian independence. He tells his friend Fielding that the two of them will become friends again in future when the English have completed their passage to and from India.