Topics in Modernism
Analyse the passage below and determine the various techniques that Forster uses. In
what ways is it modernist in its style? What effects do these techniques create?
Remember to formulate a relevant thesis statement and demonstrate proper analysis of evidence from the text.
“Dr. Aziz, we have done you no harm.”
“Aha, you know my name, I see. Yes, I am Aziz. No, of course your great friend Miss Quested did me no harm at the Marabar.”
Drowning his last words, all the guns of the State went off. A rocket from the Jail garden gave the signal. The prisoner had been released, and was kissing the feet of the singers. Roseleaves fall from the houses, sacred spices and coco-nut are brought forth. … It was the halfway moment; the God had extended His temple, and paused exultantly. Mixed and confused in their passage, the rumours of salvation entered the Guest House. They were startled and moved on to the porch, drawn by the sudden illumination. The bronze gun up on the fort kept flashing, the town was a blur of light, in which the houses seemed dancing, and the palace waving little wings. The water below, the hills and sky above, were not involved as yet; there was still only a little light and song struggling among the shapeless lumps of the universe. The song became audible through much repetition; the choir was repeating and inverting the names of deities.
“Radhakrishna Radhakrishna, Radhakrishna Radhakrishna, Krishnaradha Radhakrishna, Radhakrishna Radhakrishna,”
they sang, and woke the sleeping sentry in the Guest House; he leant upon his iron-tipped spear.
“I must go back now, good night,” said Aziz, and held out his hand, completely forgetting that they were not friends, and focusing his heart on something more distant than the caves, something beautiful. His hand was taken, and then he remembered how detestable he had been, and said gently, “Don’t you think me unkind anymore?”
“How can you tell, you strange fellow?”
“Not difficult, the one thing I always know.”
“Can you always tell whether a stranger is your friend?”
“Then you are an Oriental.” He unclasped as he spoke, with a little shudder. Those
words – he had said them to Mrs. Moore in the mosque in the beginning of the cycle, from which, after so much suffering, he had got free. Never be friends with the English! Mosque, caves, mosque, caves. And here he was starting again. He handed the magic ointment to him. “Take this, think of me when you use it. I shall never want it back. I must give you one little present, and it is all I have got; you are Mrs. Moore’s son.”
“I am that,” he murmured to himself; and a part of Aziz’ mind that had been hidden
seemed to move and force its way to the top.
“But you are Heaslop’s brother also, and alas, the two nations cannot be friends.”
“I know. Not yet.”
“Did your mother speak to you about me?”
“Yes.” And with a swerve of voice and body that Aziz did not follow he added, “In her
letters, in her letters. She loved you.”
“Yes, your mother was my best friend in all the world.” He was silent, puzzled by his
own great gratitude. What did this eternal goodness of Mrs. Moore amount to? To nothing, if brought to the test of thought. She had not borne witness in his favour, nor visited him in the prison, yet she had stolen to the depths of his heart, and he always adored her. “This is our monsoon, the best weather,” he said, while the lights of the procession waved as though embroidered on an agitated curtain. “How I wish she could have seen them, our rains. Now is the time when all things are happy, young and old. They are happy out there with their savage noise, though we cannot follow them; the tanks are all full so they dance, and this is India. I wish you were not with officials, then I would show you my country, but I cannot. Perhaps I will just take you out on the water now, for one short half-hour.”
Was the cycle beginning again? His heart was too full to draw back. He must slip out in the darkness, and do this one act of homage to Mrs. Moore’s son. He knew where the oars were hidden to deter the visitors from going outand he brought the second pair, in case they met the other boat; the Fieldings had pushed themselves out with long poles, and might get into difficulties, for the wind was rising.
Before you plan and write your TMA, you should do the following:
Note where in A Passage to India this passage appears (i.e. its significance in relation to the wider themes, plot, and characterisation of the novel as you have studied them so far).
Read Sections 3.1 and 3.2 of Study Unit 2 to remind yourself of Forsters own background and attitudes when writing A Passage to India, and consider the ways in which his own anglicised attitude to India might be revealed in the extract.
Remind yourself of the methods for close reading of A Passage to India, as demonstrated in Sections 3.3 to 3.5 of Study Unit 2.
Having considered Virginia Woolfs critique of realism in the first part of this TMA task, Part B asks that you consider the various techniques another modernist author, E.M. Forster, uses in an extract from Part Three of A Passage to India in which Dr. Aziz and Ralph Moore talk together.
Since the word limit is not particularly large, you will need to select your material very carefully. While doing this, you will also need to bear in mind that Forster may use a variety of techniques, both conventionally realist and more experimentally modernist. Consider also that Forster may well create effects through various methods: literally through what happens in the extract, the tone used by the narrator, or possible metaphorical content of the passage.
You need to use Study Unit 2, Chapter 3.3 when you consider the various techniques which Forster uses in this extract. While reading it, ask yourself how much (or how little) Forster makes uses of the mixed modes that Chapter 3.3 focuses on. Consider the extent to which it is modernist in its style, or whether Forster uses other more conventional realist techniques in this passage.
Remember: you are analysing not just which techniques Forster uses, but also how he makes use of them to create effects (that is, how these stylistic choices help him to create various tones, displaying different attitudes, which deepen the psychological realism in the passage). Approaching the task this way will ensure that you are analysing and interpreting rather than simply describing. Also, this exercise is about reading closely with attention to language. Therefore, you should avoid merely summarising what happens in the extract.