The authors Allan Findlay and Tracy Pintchman have taken on the task of interpreting E.M. Forster's intentions in his portrayal of spirituality in his novel 'A Passage to India'. The novel contains a significant amount of symbolism, word play, and deliberate characterization conveying certain notions regarding Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Hinduism that can be understood in a number of ways; interestingly, both of these writers come to the same conclusion using differing methods of analysis which will soon be explained in this essay.
Findlay's article, E.M. Forster's Chandrapore, a Spiritual Landscape, published in the journal, 'Angles on the English Speaking World', approaches the novel as Forster's experimental ideological testament. He references many quotes from interviews with Forster himself regarding spirituality. The primary focus of the article is to discuss spirituality, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Mohammedanism, as it relates to the setting of Chandrapore. This analysis reflects upon the setting of Chandrapore in its entirety and its relation to India as well as considering the significance of specific locations within the town. This method differs from that of Pintchman whose focus lies in the characters of 'A Passage to India'.
Pintchman's analysis, titled Snakes in the Cave: Religion and the Echo in E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, was written for Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. This article concentrates on the symbolism of the echo in regards to the philosophical and metaphysical insights Forster tries to convey through his novel.
[...] According to Pintchman, the response of the characters to the encounter with the echo in the Marabar Caves and the symbols associated with it reveals their spiritual views (Findlay 62). The article explains the echo as entirely void of distinction, form (as do the caves), and definition and it is this notion that the characters are reacting. To this realization, Mrs. Moore reacts with panic and a feeling of emptiness as that leads her to lose her wish to communicate with her God as well as her ability to distinguish between love and violence, and thus, a lack of meaning (Pintchman 75). [...]
[...] The placement of their “designated” area high above the other two regions similarly implies Forster's opinion that the Anglo-Indian people consider themselves to be higher, or better, than the rest of Chandrapore. In the words of Forster himself, look down on a world of whose richness and subtlety they have no conception” (Findlay 61) while Hindus, placed in the lowest parts of the town, carry the ideal of all beings as equals with this suggested notion of humility. It is for these reasons that Findlay believes Forster has implied hope of unity through a Hindu mindset over those of Christianity and Islam through his use of setting. [...]
[...] The article notes Forster's use of the snake in his novel evoke associations for Hindus and aversion on the part of non-Hindus (Pintchman 67). To overcome their illusions and accept the uncertainty of existence is intimidating for the non-Hindus. Thus, Pintchman believes Forster to be suggesting that Christianity and Islam will only keep the world in segregation and the open mind of a Hindu offers hope for resolution. To quote Findlay, the authors seem to agree that, religion or ideology which drops its central message of love of mankind is empty Forster” (Findlay 72). [...]
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