On Violence in Passage to India

I’d admit that it was more than a little frustrating to read Fanon because of his rather extreme, over-generalized statements on the colonialists and the colonized. Was the colonized world really divided in two? Wouldn’t Fielding/ Mrs. Moore be an exception to that case? Is the ending really unambiguous, suggesting that reconciliation and equality between the colonialists and the colonized is (at least temporarily) impossible?

What intrigued me, however, was his idea of decolonization- a term I hardly come across. Fanon mentions repeatedly that the colonized have imbibed the violent disposition of the colonized and will continue to perpetuate their ways. The colonized is much more concerned about taking the place of the colonized than competing with them. My take is that decolonization, for Fanon, is not entirely possible. And here I am reminded of a moment in the book when Aziz and Huzoor talk about the flies on the ceiling (pg. 262):

‘Look at those flies on the ceiling. Why have you not drowned them?’

‘Huzoor, they return’

‘Like all evil things.’

Hassan then related how the kitchen-boy killed one snake by cutting it into two and creating two snakes in its place instead. Imagine if you tried cutting the two snakes up again. A never-ending infernal cycle! In my own opinion, however, the ending of the novel isn’t as straightforward as it seems even though the ‘hundred voices’ oppose the friendship between Fielding and Aziz. It’s interesting to note that the last mention of Fielding names him as ‘the other’ and that his question of ‘Why can’t we be friends now?’ is (I argue) really left open-ended because we don’t get to read about Aziz’s response. Before that, Aziz’s interaction with Fielding is both intimate and hostile with him riding against Fielding furiously and then ‘half kissing him’.

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