Blogs due April 24 – Passage to India

This week’s blog prompts have been written by the M.A. students in the class. BE GRATEFUL. (We’re still waiting on a few–we’ll have them by the end of the day on Wednesday.)

Blog Group 1 (A-H): reply to a blog entry from last week. 300-400 words.

Blog Group 2 (I-N): You have the week off; I encourage you to keep up with what others have written.

Blog Group 3 (O-Z): 700-800-word posts due Friday, April 24, by 11:59 p.m. Please tag your post “Blog 4.”

Please remember to sign your name (at least first name and last initial) so that it’s clear who’s posted what. And never miss an opportunity to close-read language.


Prompts: Feel free to bring in excerpts from previous texts, or from the Butler book, to illuminate whatever aspects of Forster’s novel you wish to discuss. And be sure to cite specific examples from the novel. The more you can analyze language, the better off you’ll be.

  1. How does Forster’s style, which seems to gloss the story as it tells it, adhere to, alter or reject one or two notions of modernist aesthetic we’ve encountered in this course so far (mediation, modernist as cultural diagnostician, the abstracting of art, fragmentation, noise, etc.)?
  2. How might or mightn’t we consider Adela a character on whom the imperial ideology in Chandrapore is inscribed?
  3. In Chapter 14 of A Passage to India the narrator remarks, “Like most Orientals, Aziz overrated hospitality, mistaking it for intimacy, and not seeing that it is tainted with the sense of possession” (142). Can you point to other moments in the text where the narrator seems to be asserting its opinion? Is our narrator consistent? Reliable? Unbiased? Western? How, would you argue, do the narrator’s interjections shape our experiences of the characters in this novel?
  4. After Mrs. Moore leaves the caves, she thinks about how the echo in caves upset her and that “Prof. Godbole had never mentioned an echo; it never impressed him, perhaps” (147). Mrs. Moore is not the only one who learns of the echoes as they happen. In the detailed description of the caves in chapter 12, there is no mention of the echoes that are central to the characters’ experience in the caves. What do you make of this omission, of letting the reader experience the echoes for the first time alongside the characters? What significance do echoes hold in the first section of novel, and does the meaning change once they reach the caves?
  5. Close-read the significance of the imagery in the opening chapter of the “Caves” section.  How do these images correlate with the subsequent action?
  6. Discuss specific instances that presage Aziz’s arrest.  What does the disconnect between Indian and English cultures reveal about these moments?
  7. “Caves” highlights the binary of “dull” versus “interesting” life experience at least twice (“the visitor returns to Chandrapore uncertain whether he has had an interesting experience or a dull one or any experience at all” [137];  “most of life is so dull that there is nothing to be said about it” [146]). The traveling party’s encounter with the tree stump/snake (155) shows us that Aziz would rather scare his guests with an interesting untruth (i.e., it’s a snake) rather than calm them with the dull truth (i.e., it’s a stump). Considering Aziz’s obsession with being a perfect host, why is his choice here significant and how does it shed light on the book’s theme of intercultural intelligibility?
  8. Inside the caves, all sound is distilled into a single echoing “boum” (163) that instigates a panic attack for Mrs. Moore.  Once she emerges from the cave, this “terrifying echo” (162) grows more articulate:  “Coming at a moment when she chanced to be fatigued, [the echo] had managed to murmur, ‘Pathos, piety, courage – they exist, but are identical…Everything exists, nothing has value’” (165). What enables Mrs. Moore – and no one else – to decipher the echo’s muddled message?
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