Passage to India

An exploration of these possibilities hopefully shall veal which meaning, If not all of them, Forester Intended the Marimba Caves to possess. On a metaphysical level, the Caves can be seen as a representation of the subconscious. By entering the caves one penetrates the dark, cavernous realm of one’s own psyche. Several characters experience a revelation within their walls. Mrs.. Moor’s revelation is that of immense hopelessness. Her experience in the cave creates a sense of chaos and the sense that despite what is said or known in the world, It Is all essentially meaningless.
The echo she hears reinforces this revelation to her. The scary resounding “boom” reduces every individual sound or voice to a continuous and indistinct noise (Forester 163). She meditates that the sound, “had managed to murmur ‘Pathos, piety, courage-they exist, but are identical, and so is filth. Everything exists, nothing has value. ‘ If one had spoken vileness in that place, or quoted lofty poetry, the comment would have been the same-‘oh-boom” (165). It is here she realizes the whole of human history has sounded Just Like this and that her existence makes no Impression upon it at all.
That no matter what Is done and said It s all in the end meaningless. For her, the caves symbolize the antiquity of existence and she has been reduced to being another nonsensical blurb in the annals of time. When she emerges from the cave, Adele asks Mrs.. Moore if she saw the reflection of a match, calling it pretty. Mrs.. Moore claims to have forgotten, but ultimately the only thing she saw In the cave was a reflection of her fears. For the young Adele, the caves Invoke a different revelation.

Perhaps their enormity and sense of removal from the world make her meditate on the decision she Is going to make to marry Irony. Looking upon the rock formations as if ripples in her own mind, she is reminded of her relationship with Irony and asks, “What about love? ” (168). Within these walls, she realizes that she is about to marry a man she does not love and ultimately by traversing the corridors of her own mind, she reaches a sense of inner awareness. Adele has a sudden epiphany In the caves and “vexed, rather than appalled, she stood still, her eyes on the sparkling rock” (168).
Perhaps this sparkling rock that Adele focuses on represents a light that has been turned on inside of her. However, unlike Mrs.. Moore who is reduced to an irritable depression, Adele has what appears be a mental breakdown. She has made a decision to escape the confines of societal pressures and not marry Irony. This knowledge provokes such a state in her that she seems to be in a trance, unaware of the hysteria surrounding her until her Inner echo stops during the trial. After renouncing all charges against Aziza; Adele confides Tanat parlor to near cave explosion, sense experienced “a sort AT sadness. . Tanat I could not detect at the time… No, nothing as solid as sadness: living at half pressure expresses it best. Half pressure” (266). Inside the caves is where she recognizes that so far she was not living her life “full steam”. Perhaps this revelation at a life led devoid of true experiences and satisfaction caused her possible “hallucination”. Up until this point in her life, she had seen life in only one direction; now there were many. In court, she conjures up this multi-directional view; describing it as a “double relation” (253).
She tries to recount the day at the caves and questions herself as to why she did not enjoy what was around her initially. Looking back she realizes that it was “all dutiful and significant, though she had been blind to it at the time” (253). For both women the entrance into the caves is like an entrance into their own mind. They derive a new sense of knowledge within the hollowed walls and emerge with an echo- a “boom” that haunts them; an echo that may be the resounding hum of their own subconscious (168). This haunting echo for Mrs..
Moore serves as a reminder of her own insignificance and mortality; while for Adele the echo chips away at her, revealing that perhaps she is uncomfortable with her new self-awareness until she can properly interpret it. However, she will need time to do this, remarking that “the vision disappeared whenever she wished to interpret it” (267). One can only speculate on Dale’s revelation and her supposed “insult”. In the end she loses interest in who could have insulted her in the cave; because ultimately she encountered someone much more important in those walls, herself.
Essentially, Adele grapples with three different issues: the “concept of her own Brutishness crumbles, as the very essence of her identity alters, [and] her disenfranchisement in Anglo-India 56). Her first step of assertion is by renouncing her accusations against Aziza. By disentangling herself from the British and their need to scapegoat him she has effectively removed herself from the Anglo-Indian system and become her own woman. In a more literal fashion the caves can be seen as momentary freedom from the constraints of each individual’s society; Moslem, Hindu, and Anglo-Indian all converge here.
The Marimba Cave setting is a less formal affair then the “bridge party’ and serves as a removal from the country club and mosques that separate them. However, this confluence of cultures has disastrous results for the main characters. The initial entrance into the caves is described as absolute chaos by Mrs.. Moore. Inside there is no light and no distinctions can be made between people. She describes the caves as being, “Crammed with villagers and servants… She lost Adele and Aziza in the dark, didn’t know who touched her, couldn’t breathe, and some vile naked thing struck her face and settled on her like a pad” (Forester 162).
Here she suffers a panic attack at what is essentially a removal of the rigid hierarchies she is accustomed to. She is disgusted and threatened by the vile naked pad which slaps her and then turns out to simply be a baby. It is because she cannot see and categorize what is around her that she “went mad, hitting and gasping like a fanatic” (162). It is too much chaos for her and the scene unleashes her instinctual, primitive reaction; far from the decorum she may have though herself to possess. Despite her kindness and “orientation”, Mrs.. Moore is as reliant on a structured system as any AT near countrymen .
I Nils scans AT Matrimonial TTY amongst cultures continues when Adele and Aziza enter the next cave. The reader is never informed of what really happens within the cave due to the narrative being from Jazz’s respective. However, Dale’s supposed insult resulting from Jazz’s advances creates outrageous turmoil. It is rooted in the problem that they- a Moslem Indian and a British woman- are alone in such an environment. The insinuation here is that by lowering their guards both parties have suffered. If Adele was in fact insulted, then it was a result of being so familiar with an Indian man.
However, if Aziza was innocent the problem was essentially still a result of taking the chance of having too much freedom around a British woman. This reprieve from town and cultural boundaries as shown that distrust and miscommunication are embedded within these groups. Essentially, by showing the havoc that ensues from being at the caves far away from societal restrictions, Forester is showing that perhaps there is a necessity for a separation of cultures when such misunderstanding and distrust exists. There will never entirely be hope for a healthy convergence of cultures if such elements of suspicion linger.
The ideas of freedom and the subconscious that the caves inspire may only help to compound the element of mystery they possess. Monk notes that, The Marimba Caves have a corrosive, annihilating effect on those who are susceptible to their power, and they become the central mystery of “mysterious India” in Forester’s Passage thereto”. The caves are both a representation of mystery and the source of it. It is within their confines that Adele is “insulted”; yet the reader never really knows what happened if anything did happen at all.
The mystic trance they seem to infuse their visitors with can be seen as reflective of the mystery of Eastern spirituality to western eyes. The east possesses a culture so different from the English; that it is resented as an enigma to them that can never be solved. McCauley remarks that, “Everything Indian is haloed in mystery; the caves, the landscape, even the bird that the English see in a tree and cannot identify, for “nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear and to merge in something else” (201).
The Marimba caves carry an enigmatic power. Forester comments that this power lies in their defiance of time and meaning, stating that “Nothing is inside them, they were sealed up before the creation of pestilence or treasure; if mankind grew Uris’s and excavated, nothing, nothing would be added to the sum of good or evil” (Forester 119). Marimba caves may also serve as another example of the need to determine mystery from muddle. Earlier in the novel, a conversation is posed concerning the difference between the terms.
Adele generally admits to abhorring mysteries, while Fielding chimes in agreement that “We English do” (73). However, it is Mrs.. Moore who makes the distinction between liking a mystery and disliking a muddle. The conversation ends with the question as to if India is a muddle. If India is a muddle, or not; what then would the caves be? Perhaps if the definition of the caves can be determined, then one could unlock the answer to whether India is a muddle or mystery. The difference between the terms mystery and muddle are never clearly defined in the novel.
However, a mystery by definition generally has an answer at the end. The implication of the word muddle is that there is no answer and randomness exists. If one examines the caves and the events within them, perhaps muddle could be the more appropriate description. Mrs.. Moore certainly described chaos, and the mystery AT Dale’s Insult Is never solved. In ten caves scans ensues Ana no solutions are offered. This would indicate muddle. If the caves are muddle and reflect the real India; is India, therefore, a muddle or a mystery? Fielding seems to think “Indian’s a muddle” (73).
However, if India is a muddle than the implications of this could be boundless. For if this one country and culture is summed up as a muddle, could not the same opinion be made about most other places and people? Is mankind’s existence random, chaotic, and essentially devoid of any real answers? These questions sound undoubtedly like what Mrs.. Moore was asking herself outside of the Marimba caves. She drew a linear relationship between the nothingness of the caves and her own existence; indicating the same connection between these elements.
Perhaps Forester’s caves serve the purpose of showing that everything is essentially muddled. This muddle or mystery, subconscious, and freedom are all to be found with the Forester’s Marimba Caves. Each character upon entering them emerges with their own definition of their meaning. Mrs.. Moore and Adele both approached the caves as if taking a walk within the confines of their own psyches, each discovering their worries and their fears. Aziza found himself victim to the caves and the mystery that happened within them.
In addition, all of these characters experienced the ramifications and revelations that arise when one is free from societal observation. The question was posed of whether the caves represented freedom, the subconscious, or the mystery of India. After careful exploration, it is obvious that the caves represent all of these different elements. Perhaps the Marimba caves even represent what is seemingly impossible- both meaning and muddle. Their contradictory coexistence might be the real mystery of India, and of existence. , Works Cited Forester, E. M. A Passage to India.

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