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In E. M.

Forsters A Passage to India, the reader experiences multiple layers within the novel beginning with the structure, the focus on relationships, and the characters. The author makes a concerted effort throughout the novel to build a bridge between Western and Eastern societies by using the characters to demonstrate the deep differences in the cultures. For the reader, unfamiliarity with Indian culture may pose some issues in interpreting and understanding behaviors and roles within the text. One character in particular, Professor Godbole, enhances the mystery of the contrasting societies because he seems to not notice the feelings of other people. That is in contrast to his high position in the Indian caste system. As a Hindu Brahmin, he is at the top of the Hindu social status and his view of the world is one of peace and that life is really something to be celebrated. Because of his belief, he does not recognize the struggles of others regardless of their culture. According to David Shusterman, there seems to be no doubt that Godbole is a man of genuine goodwill or that he is the source of much that is good. His approach to life gives others a sense of hope that is demonstrated throughout the book. He chooses a time of crisis for others to say to Mr. Fielding, I had thought of the Mr. Fielding high School, but failing that, the King-Emperor George the Fifth regarding the naming of the school. This is another example of the layering Forster uses throughout the novel and this specific incident sets up the importance of Godboles role for the rest of the novel. Forsters ability to layer his novel by structuring it into three parts, where each part is a different season also sets the tone for the layering of characters as the story progresses. Godbole is viewed as a religious man throughout the novel. The layering continues with the focus on the three major world religions as Forster uses India to set the tone for Islam, Christianity and Hinduism represented in the characters in the novel. These religions and their differences also correspond to the three sections of the book. The Sparknotes evaluation of the role of Hinduism

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as seen through Godboles view makes it the central viewpoint and is the reason Godbole feels that total acceptance of things as they are is his way of life. Aside from the religious role Godbole represents, the reader sees a layer in the cultural differences when he joins the tea and "He took his tea at a little distance from the outcasts . . . According to the article, Mystery in A Passage to India, this is likely due to his status, but also sets the tone for the respect he receives from others. It seems he is not concerned for others, but each action plays a role in the overall message he delivers in his speech of good and evil later in the book. Friendship is also a layer throughout the novel that shifts between characters. Mr. Fielding seems to have the greatest capability of understanding and appreciating the differences in cultures. Other friendships such as that between Aziz and Mrs. Moore when they first meet seems important to each of them. The reader sees Mrs. Moore as a religious Christian, demonstrating the religious aspect of the book, but her faith is challenged and ends up playing a role in her demise when her faith is challenged. According to Shusterman, Mrs. Moore finds completeness only after death through the intercession of Godbole. The fact that the British focus more on duty than relationships is demonstrated during the trial and is another example of the significance of Godboles role. His belief that the outcome of any situation has already been determined and in the hands of a higher being is demonstrated clearly in his reaction to the arrest and trial of Aziz. In the quote regarding the naming of the school, we see that Mr. Fielding is in turmoil over the accusations toward Aziz and not concerned about the school name, but Godbole seems totally unconcerned. The continued thread of Godboles impact on various situations plays a role in the set up for the trial of Aziz. This layer of the novel is preparing the reader to see the trial from a religious aspect. The Sparknotes editors point out that the reader is left to imagine that if Fielding and Godbole had been able to

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accompany Aziz and the women as they had planned, the terrible and confusing incidents that befall the members of the party at the Marabar Caves might never have occurred. Culture and religion continually make Godbole a major focus of the novel.

According to The Review of English Studies, Godbole as a character is possibly named for an actual person the author met on his travels to India. The translation of the name Godbole is associated with music and actually means sweet-tongued. Godbole the character has a unique view of situations and speaks in such a way that he represents both sides of any situation as his belief that fate determines the outcome of all situations. Godboles philosophy of: Good and evil are different, as their names imply. But, in my own humble opinion, they are both aspects of my Lord. He is present in the one, absent in the other, and the difference between presence and absence is great, as great as my feeble mind can grasp. Yet absence implies presence, absence is not non-existence, and we are there for entitled to repeat, Come, come, come, come. Although this sounds confusing and on the surface doesnt seem to make sense, Godbole points out there is another way to look at any situation and according to the research by Schmoop editors, the world that includes, rather than excludes, the muddle, a way of looking at the world that doesnt deny the muddle exist, but embraces the muddle as a necessary part of life. This same philosophy that Godbole seems to live by through his religious beliefs was also witnessed with the quote originally addressed in this paper. Godbole was telling Mr. Fielding he was returning to his homeland to open a school that he hoped would be like Government College. It is with great frustration that Mr. Fielding worries about Mr. Aziz and cannot understand Godboles apparent disinterest in the trouble of their friend. When he asks if Godbole feels Aziz is guilty, it is once again the Hindu philosophy that Godbole answers, Because nothing can be performed in isolation. All perform a good action, when one is

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performed, and when an evil action is performed, all perform it. Godboles consistent belief that people should accept everything as it is continues to demonstrate that is doesnt matter if one is English or Indian, each one has moments of good and evil and each is responsible for the trial, not just one man or one woman. Each group of people played a role in the situation. In conclusion, even though it may appear on the surface that Godbole does not play a major role in A Passage to India, his deep religious beliefs impact everyone he meets throughout the novel. His question to Mr. Fielding about the naming of the schools served to show that he did not judge people nor did he care from what country they came. His religious beliefs determined his course of action and the reason he made the choices he did. His desire to name the school after an Englishman was yet another way he demonstrate his character, and though that made him appear vague and disinterested in the well being of others, his strength came from a greater power that played a role in the lives of many of the characters.

References Mystery in Passage to India: Discussion of how the clash of Western and Indian Social Norms, in conjunction with a western perspective lead to an atmosphere

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of mystery in Forsters work. Accessed 1 Nov. 2011. n.d.

Forster, E. M. A Passage to India (San Diego: Houghton Mifflin, 1924).

Sarker, Sunil Kumar. E. M. Fosters A Passage to India. (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2007). Shmoop Editorial Team. "A Passage to India Life, Consciousness, Existence Quotes" Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.

Shusterman, David. The Curious Case of Professor Godbole: A Passage to India Re-Examined. PMLA. Vol. 76, No. 4 (Sep., 1961, pp. 426-435).

SparkNotes Editors. SparkNote on A Passage to India. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.

Review of English Studies. The Genius of Professor Godbole. (1977) XXVIII (109): 56-60. doi: 10.1093/res/XXVIII.109.56

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