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What impressions do you receive from this passage of the four English characters involved? Comment on the atmosphere and effect of this episode and the means by which Forster achieves them.

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Introduction

What impressions do you receive from this passage of the four English characters involved? Comment on the atmosphere and effect of this episode and the means by which Forster achieves them. Set at one of the few points in the novel in which all of the more major characters in the book are spending time together, this passage illustrates various attitudes and reactions evident in the people of the novel. These characters represent not only themselves but also the surrounding categories of people, particularly the four English characters present in this instance. We have, for instance, Ronny Heaslop with his perfectly mimicked Anglo-Indian attitudes in the obvious prejudices against local Indians. Forster's choice of words in the description of Ronny's conversations with Fielding hints subtly at the impression that Ronny is a 'would-be' "sun-dried bureaucrat", a follower rather than one setting his own opinions and pace, and somehow, a newcomer trying to fit in with the local gang. His tone is almost too affable when he speaks to Fielding ("I say, old man..."), the "pseudo-heartiness" bringing to mind previous conversations between British established in India with the newcomers, such as to Mrs Moore or Adela. It is an impression of sticking together despite mutual aversion on a personal level, the advice essentially to distrust all not of one's own kind even to cooperation despite personal dislike. It is interesting to note in the apparently protective comment on leaving an "English girl... smoking with two Indians" the effect not just of the conjunction ('polo-playing us versus them Indians') but also of the split: the superior attitude, the confident advice, all somehow reflect a youth's disdain of age. ...read more.

Middle

Ronny had single-handedly shoved minor distinctions into crevices with his behaviour, isolating each member from the group and removing their sense of belonging, making a farce out of the cordial farewells. He separates Adela from the Indian men as different, his mother he keeps apart by telling her not to "trouble to come", Fielding as the only Englishman and therefore the only one worth speaking to, and so on. His unintentional success is initially revealed in Fielding's disgusted "take your ladies away", leaving one to wonder if the reason Englishwomen would not "last" "six months" as pleasant people in India were not themselves, but rather a result of blind obedience to the official attitude set down by the men. Adela Quested somehow comes across in this extract as a foolish character. Ronny, the very person she had in light of her later statements, evidently decided not to marry, is still protecting her in the first conversation with Fielding. It is interesting to note how the passage recounts the evident slip she had made about staying in India to Aziz and her flustered reaction to his mentioning it in his effort to elicit a reaction from anyone in general. While the comment in general reflects to a greater part on Aziz's motives, there is the reminder here that Adela, for all the rationality she displays at other points of the novel, has spontaneous, impulsive moments too, and in one such moment of unthinking realization provided Aziz with his opening. The reader is reminded of her 'later' thought that Ronny 'should' have been the first one told in that instance, and is therein reminded of Adela's clinical nature. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is a description of all and nothing at the same time, hinting around every action much like the vagueness in Godbole's song. The aspect of Krishna's being driven to stay away from the selfish milkmaids is like God being driven away from one's peace of mind (specifically Mrs Moore's). Due to the inability of man to avoid much the same selfishness of wishing to be distinguished from all others in superiority, everyone is kept at a distance from unity with God and people. The changes of rhythm in this passage are fascinating. Here, the first half of the extract involves a dialogue with increasingly tense and abrupt diction, the impatience of the people begin to be felt in the snappish retorts under the cover of polite speech. The listing of the goodbyes especially contrast the distanced veneer of civility with the rising emotions of personal heat, and the later increase of emotional warmth, reflecting the boundaries set by people between themselves and others. Even the longer sentences convey a tone of barely concealed impatience degenerating into frustrated mutterings, unlike the second half, where there is art, meditation, and a flowing rhythm with a calm slowness that stands out from the immediately preceding part. There is no petulance or fretting here, no barely concealed toleration. All stand together in a mutual lack of understanding, a common appreciation, perhaps, of the disillusioning quality of Godbole's explanation of his song. This extract thus illustrates the unnatural social gulfs that alienate man from each other, together with the potential solutions of acceptance and a willing change of individual as well as societal perceptions. Megan Tay 2A03A / 2002 ...read more.

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