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In E.M. Fosters novel A Passage To India, Foster starts out with a short, brief description and introduction about the setting, tell us exactly where the story is going to take place. By Foster opening up his novel this way, it helps us to appreciate the Indians as the natives of the land of India. Through out the story E.M. Foster uses many different geographical aspects as symbols to represent different things that are going to occur through the plot of the story.

In chapter one, Foster opens up his story by describing Chandrapore, a city along the Ganges. Chandrapore is a prototypical Indian town, neither distinguished nor exceptionally troubled, therefore this town can be taken symbolic of the rest of India rather than an exceptional case. In Chandrapore, the streets are mean, the temples ineffective, and though a few fine houses exist they are hidden away in gardens or down alleys whose filth deters all but the invited guest. Chandrapore was never large or beautiful, except for the Marabar Caves, that are twenty miles away from the city. When looking from the Bazaar in Chandrapore, the low lying area is where the Indians lived, which is not much more than mud huts. Right in the middle of the mountains between where the low lying area sits and the higher side of the mountain sits is called the civil station. This is where the people who do not belong to either the English or the Indian group live at. Then Foster describes the higher side of the mountain where the English people live. A city of gardens, which is not really a city, but a forest sparsely scattered with huts, toddy palms, palm trees, and mangoes. It is a beautiful place with branches and beckoning leaves and even a place for the birds to visit. (Chapter 1) By setting up this description of the city of Chandrapore, it shows us that the English people are the ones that are living on the nicer side of the bazaare and that the English men think that the Indians and themselves can not be friends. With this in mind it shows that at this time the English have total control and power over India.

At the end of chapter one, Foster also goes into a brief description describing what the sky looks like and what it represents. Foster says,

“By day the blue will pale down into white where it touches the white of the land, after sunset it has a new circumference � orange, melting upwards into tenderest purple.” (Chapter 1)

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Here Foster is trying to describe what the sunrise and sunset looks like everyday over the city of Chandrapora. Foster also goes on and says,

The sky settles everything � not only climates and seasons but when the earth shall be beautiful. By herself she can do little � only feeble outbursts of flowers. (Chapter 1)

Here Foster is saying that hopefully one day the English men and the Indian can come to peace and make friends and then everything will settle itself just like the climates and season do on the earth.

In chapter four, Foster starts to bring in the idea of the Bridge Party between the Indians and the Englishmen. This is a significant event for the Indians. They believe that the motivation for the party is not a sincere attempt to stimulate correlation among the two societies, but rather to dictate a higher ranking colonial official. The Indians feel that this is a good time to step in and show the English men who is in control of India, but the British define their power by their ability to dominate the Indians and exclude them from certain privileges, whether it be political or social issues. The Bridge Party was a big failure for all of those who attended, because it represents all of the problems of cross-cultural exchanges between the English and the Indians. The British who attend the party do not behave very well, they are very disrespectful to the Indian and also evokes a broader them of colonialism.

In chapter twelve, E.M. Foster goes into a deep description of the Marabar Caves and what they symbolize. Each of the caves include a tunnel about eight feet long, five feet high, three feet wide that leads to a circular chamber about twenty feet in diameter. Having seen one cave, has essentially seen them all. Foster then goes on to describe the Marabar Caves as a center of uncertainty, but the caves will serve as a physical manifestation of the events that takes place around the caves. Foster also creates a sense of irony surrounding the trip to the caves, but also describes the caves perhaps as unexceptional and even dull.

At the end of the novel E.M. Foster bring the sky back into the setting to give the story it final ending. It helps to set the tone for the bittersweet reconciliation between Aziz and Fielding, but also with realization that the two cannot be friends under contemporary conditions. In this manner, Foster ends A Passage To India as a tragic but platonic love story between the two friends, separated by different cultures and political climates.

In A Passage To India, Foster used geographical symbols to help us to better understand what is going on in the story between the Indians and the English. Foster also uses these symbols as descriptions to foreshadow and/or reinforce the messages about the colonialism between India and the British.

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