Geopolitics in “A Passage to India

“The Wretched of the Earth” reading gave me several insights. One of which is that violence is inflicted on the colonial subject through the use of space. “In colonial regions, the proximity and frequent, direct intervention by the police and the military ensure the colonized are kept under close scrutiny” (4). Thus not only is Foucault’s idea of surveillance utilized in that the colonizers constantly invade the native space but that the spaces in which the native and the colonizer inhabit are placed in stark contrast. The colonist forms enclaves “where the streets are clean and smooth”, a “belly permanently full of good things” (4) while the native quarters is a “disreputable place inhabited by disreputable people” (4).

We see this use of space playing out in “A Passage to India” as the club symbolizes a place for the British elites to play tennis, have bridge parties and foster an identity of English-ness. The Indians are prohibited from entering this space as Aziz demonstrates by watching only from the gate. Meanwhile, Aziz’s home is one where the heat permeates and where flies are aplenty so much so that Hassan is called to drive them away.

Fanon suggests that this binaristic opposition of spaces breeds envy in the native and they want to overthrow the colonizers and take their place. The bridge party for example, is draped under the pretense that the British invited the ‘real’ Indians so as to bridge the gap but in between sips of their iced lemon tea, the British are sneering them, and this event only seeks to enforce the superiority of their race. This is also seen in the courthouse where commoners sit on the dust outside the court while Adela and her supporters were given seats on the platform signaling a position of authority (208). Thus the tensions between the races are not only evident through their physical interactions with one another but this is also manifested through the geographical landscape and the Forster’s use of space.