A Passage to India Plot Summary
We are introduced to Chandrapore, a city that is part of the British Raj. It is separated into three parts: Mosque, Caves, and Temple.
Aziz is a poor doctor who has lived dutifully under British command, but has grown more frustrated with their treatment of him and his fellow Indians. He and his friends discuss the English and complain that they have changed in attitude over the years and have become more intolerant and cold. The British officials at the civil station in Chandrapore run a club that forbids Indians from attending and try to avoid any intimate friendships or relations with the natives. Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested come over from England to visit Ronny Heaslop, Mrs. Moore's son and Adela's betrothed. One night, Mrs. Moore encounters Dr. Aziz in a Mosque in the moonlight. They are at first startled by each other, but instantly become friends. Mrs. Moore and Adela are more liberal than Ronny and wish to see the "real India" and befriend Indians. Mr. Fielding, the Principal of the Government College, invites Adela and Mrs. Moore to his home for tea. He also invites Dr. Aziz, who he recently met and liked instantly, and his mystical Hindu colleague Professor Godbole. Fielding's tea party is very friendly and comfortable. Aziz feels so at ease, that he invites the women on an excursion to the caves at Marabar.
Aziz gets to the train station especially early so nothing will go wrong with the excursion. Mrs. Moore and Adela arrive on time, but Fielding and Godbole have not yet arrived. Aziz is nervous because he does not want to be left alone with the women, anticipating that trouble will arise. Ronny also disapproves of the women being left alone. He sends over a servant to follow them to make sure they are not left alone with Dr. Aziz. Fielding and Godbole arrive too late. They miss the train and Aziz is left to travel alone with Mrs. Moore and Adela. They put him at ease and assure him they are in good hands. At the caves, the weather is hot. The three go in and out of the caves, which all look similar. Within the caves is the haunting sound of an echo. While Mrs. Moore is in the cave, which is completely dark, she feels something touch her. But she is haunted by the sound of the echo, which takes over her thoughts. She decides to rest after her experience and let Adela and Aziz continue to explore other caves.
Adela becomes preoccupied with her engagement to Ronny and realizes she does not love him. Before she enters the cave, she asks Aziz about his wife and love. Adela and Aziz become separated eventually and Aziz can not find Adela. Aziz hears a car and later assumes that Miss Derek, Adela's friend, picked up Adela. Fielding joins Aziz and Mrs. Moore and they board the train back to Chandrapore. When the train pulls into the station, Aziz is arrested for charges that are unknown to him. Fielding publicly vows to defend Aziz and alienates himself from his countrymen. Aziz is charged with making improper advances to Adela in the caves. Fielding believes that Adela was hallucinating.
As the trial approaches, Mrs. Moore becomes more aloof. Adela seeks her support, but Mrs. Moore wants nothing to do with her or anyone else. Adela is haunted with the echoes from the caves, and when she realizes Aziz's innocence, the echoes go away. She tells Ronny about her doubts of Aziz's guilt and Mrs. Moore backs them up, but Ronny encourages her to go on with the trial and continue to press charges. Mrs. Moore, with the support and encouragement of her son, leaves for Britain before the trial. She dies en route, unable to endure the heat and travel conditions. At the trial, Adela continues to hear echoes. The courtroom becomes charged with emotion. Indians in the courthouse begin to call for Mrs. Moore to clear the name of Aziz. When Adela is called to the witness box, Mr. McBryde presses her until finally she admits that she is not sure if Aziz is really guilty. The judge drops the charges and all of the Indians in Chandrapore celebrate Aziz's victory. Adela walks the streets in a daze and is intercepted by Fielding. He invites her to his office for her safety.
Aziz becomes jealous while Adela and Fielding spend time together. Fielding pities her since her engagement has been broken and since she put her life on the line to tell the truth. He asks Aziz not to collect money from Adela for damages. Rumors begin to spread that he and Adela are having an affair. Fielding denies the rumor, but in the back of his mind, Aziz believes the rumor to be true and thinks Fielding will marry Adela for her money. After the trial, Aziz wants nothing to do with the British and begins to write poetry about the motherland and the nation. He decides to move out of the Raj to a free Indian state. Fielding and Adela return to England.
Two years have passed and Aziz and Godbole now live in Mau, an independent Hindu state. Godbole is the Minister of Education and Aziz has a clinic in town. The town is celebrating the arrival of a new God and is filled with singing and dancing in the streets. Godbole receives a note that Fielding and his new wife will be paying a visit. He tells Aziz who refuses to see them. Aziz has ignored all of Fielding's letters and postcards over the years and assumed that he has married Adela in London. Aziz runs into Fielding and his new brother-in-law (Ralph) by accident, when he goes out to attend to Ralph's bee sting.
Aziz treats Fielding coldly. Fielding asks why Aziz never returned his letters. Finally, Aziz realizes that Fielding did not marry Adela, but Mrs. Moore's daughter, Stella. Adela introduced them in London. Aziz continues to behave coldly and says he wants nothing to do with the British. Later on, Aziz checks up on Ralph's bee sting and continues to be cold, but is finally overcome by a spiritual epiphany brought on by the celebrations in town. He asks Ralph if he knows when a stranger becomes a friend and he answers yes. This was what his mother said to Aziz in the Mosque when they met. Finally, Aziz and Fielding become friends again. Aziz gives Fielding a letter to deliver to Adela forgiving her for her charges against him. He has left the past behind him. As Fielding and Aziz say their final good-byes, their horses pull them away from each other and they know they will never see each other again.