Adela and Mrs. Moore are both unlike the other Anglo Indian ladies in their thoughts, movements and beliefs. From the outset Adela is presented as a matter of fact, logical person with clear intentions; she wishes to see ‘the real India’ and meet with Ronnie again. Everything is very clear cut in Adela’s life, when it is not she struggles and has to make more plans to regain control, ‘she loved plans’. Mrs. Moore however came to India with no specific agenda, only to accompany Adela and visit her son; she goes with the flow.
She does not conform to other people and retains her beliefs and views throughout, although she feels her faith is being somewhat challenge at some points. Prior to the Cave expedition, Adela experiences the car journey and accident with Ronnie. The circumstances of the accident are quite normal, but the cause is unidentified; most probably deliberate of Forster to create mystery. Each of the characters decide for themselves what happened, from Adela’s simple explanation of an animal, to the Nawab Bahadur’s far fetched ideas of ghosts.
The situation did lack logic, leaving Adela venerable; hence her decision to become engaged, after Ronnie had displayed gentile tendencies. We are told they had felt ‘nothing acutely for a fortnight’ and had ‘lived more or less in cocoons’. This implies they have been numbed by India and so are unlikely to be in a position to gain anything from the trip. More importantly than that though, I doubt they are ready for such a venture: mentally because they are in the wrong frame of mind; physically because Mrs. Moore is ageing, becoming frailer and has an illness, also they are simply not used to the intense heat.
Forster explains the difference between them was ‘the elder lady accepted her own apathy, while the younger resented hers’. They share apathy for different reasons; by implication we know Adela isn’t truly happy with her marriage. On the train journey there Adela is thinking about her married life, and how it will be. Again she is planning, how to changer her servants etc.
I feel these plans are to make her life more bearable, because it is obvious she lacks affection toward Ronnie. India was certainly dim this morning’ teamed with the fact Adela ‘could not get excited over Aziz and his arrangements’, does not bode well for the event. The extra details Aziz had brought were all ‘new and amusing…. But would not bite in to her mind’. It seems little will make an impression on Adela, still it ‘led her to comment appropriately’, not because she meant it. Mrs. Moore was hoping for a nap! Their talk of ‘hot weather’ and the servants is ‘disconnected’; they are talking on different levels with reference to their own lives.
Adela has to admit she has’ never thought it out’. Both ladies are in philosophical moods thinking about the future. Mrs. Moore ponders on relationships and decides marriage is simply ‘centuries of carnal embracement’. I feel she thinks this is what it would be for Ronnie and Adela and so why should it be any different for anyone else-this is demonstrating her early stages of a spiritual crisis. The fact she ‘felt it with such force… it was trying to take hold of her hand supports symptoms of a spiritual crisis, and this is even before the caves.
Adela began the day thinking about her marriage, and will most probably be pondering on it throughout the day; the she will be spending with an oriental, a disastrous combination. Man not understanding man it the key to the novel, although it begs the question, how much does man want to understand rather than turn a blind eye to, and put up pretenses. The train had a message, although ‘it avoided her well-equipped mind’. Adela does not understand Aziz, hence her thoughtless questions with regard to her personal love life involving the English!
In the state of mind she was in, such questions were pressing on her mind and she wanted answers straight away; only this time she did not admit she had not thought it out. Being an Oriental he was not in a position to comment and she created tense atmosphere. ‘The hills look romantic… at suitable distances’, we are told; however they are far from a suitable distance. ‘Her wish had been granted but too late’ too see India. This has some reference to Godbole’s earlier song asking the God’s to come, but do not.
The enthusiastic moment had passed, so now she has to ‘exaggerate’ and be ‘compelled’ to be enthusiastic about the trip; ‘no one was enthusiastic, yet it took place’. If everyone had been honest and spoken their true feelings rather than being polite, much trouble would have been averted. ”Pomper, pomper, pomper’, was the sound made by the train’ together with the fact ‘India has few important towns, and is the country for fields, fields, hen hills, jungle, hills, and more fields’, portrays monotony. Forster tells us ‘important towns… are only retreats… of men who cannot find their way home’.
This is what the women are seeing, Adela could be wondering where her home really is, and I doubt it is in India. Mrs. Moore, exhausted had fallen asleep. ‘She was in rather low health, and ought not to have attempted the expedition, but had pulled herself together in case the pleasure of others should suffer’. This demonstrates what a selfless person she really is, always putting others before herself. She has problems, but ceases to let them prevent her. Adela breaks the ‘spell’ between Aziz and Mrs. Moore when talking about their Mosque meeting.
At that point Mrs. Moore feels ‘suddenly vital and young’, and forgets any troubles. Forster’s language devalues the caves, they were ‘tolerable convenient’. Mrs. Moore did not like the cave, she: ‘suffered from faintness’, was ‘crammed’, ‘alone’, ‘couldn’t breathe… for one instant she went mad hitting and gasping like frantic’, she heard ‘a terrifying echo’. Earlier it was ‘If a mass so great can be called one rock’, equates to her problems. There is the one problem of Adela not really loving Ronnie, but it is so much more than that. The occurring ‘spiritual silence which invaded more than the ear.
Life went on as usual, but had no consequences’. This is why she is unable to write the letter in my view, she is wondering what the point is if nothing has any consequence- what is the point of anything? When they arrive the sky is described as an ‘angry orange’ and ‘colour throbbed’, ‘grew in intensity’ and ‘strained from without against the globe of the air’. This description is similar to that of a surreal experience, perhaps similar to fainting or dying. ‘They awaited the miracle… but nothing occurred. It was as if virtue had failed in the celestial front’.
The built up moment came and was somewhat of a ‘profound disappointment’. Adela feels she ‘ought’ to go in the next cave simply because she was ‘desirous of being amiable’. They both know how they should be feeling and are trying so hard to display it, but false emotion is never the same and can lead to all sorts of unwanted characteristics and mind games. It could be that in the cave Adela stopped and tried to think who she really was and had trouble doing this as she had been trying to hard to be something she is not- thus scared her, hence the outburst.
Any number of things could have happened in the cave, but it is almost certain Aziz is innocent as he physically was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is a mystery. I feel the surroundings provoked these philosophical thoughts and feelings from the ladies. Maybe if they had ventured out on another day things would have been entirely different because different things would have happened prior to the event leaving different thoughts and ideas in their minds.