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Passage to India1

Forster's novel A Passage to India portrays a colonial India under British rule, before its liberation. For convenience's sake, Western civilization has created an Other as counterpart to itself, and a set of characteristics to go with it. An "us versus them" attitude is exemplified in Forster's representation of The Other. Separation of the British and the Indian exists along cultural lines, specifically religious/spiritual differences. Savage or ungodly cultures were to be assimilated into or at the least governed by Christians, and converted. The separation between the English and the Indian occurs when the Christian assumes the Indians are an ungodly people, in need of spiritual salvation, a race below their own, and entirely unlike them. This was demonstrated historically by the dominance of supposedly inferior races by the Christians (English). Forster's Indians have a seemingly rugged outward appearance. They are a godless people insomuchas they do not believe in the Christian GOD, even though there are two religions, Hinduism and Muslimism, which thrive in India. This division of India's religions, as opposed to England's presumably unifying religion, separates England from India even moreso. Because the Indians do not believe in the Christian GOD, they are unrecognized as spiritual. Religion shapes, if not embodies characterization. The British are British because of their religion, i.e. Ronny Heaslop is who he is because he is a white Christian British male. How he is outwardly polished is a construct of his Christian upbringing. Ronny "approved of religion as long as it endorsed the National Anthem [of England]." (p. 65) His purpose, as was the purpose of English colonialists, was constructed by his Christian beliefs. If Ronny were not English (and for this paper's purposes, English is specifically and continually linked with Christianity) he would not exist as a character. He is almost a caricature of what is English, and...

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