The Marabar Caves
The core event in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India is the ‘assault’ experienced by Adela Quested in one of the Marabar Caves, where Aziz has taken Miss Quested and Mrs Moore for a day’s excursion despite his scarce knowledge of the Hindu caves. The central chapter of the section begins with Aziz, Mrs Moore, Miss Quested and a guide from the local village having climbed up the hills and being away from the rest of the expedition party. Aziz has separated himself from Adela since he lost his emotional balance because of her insensitive questioning. The narrator follows Aziz, who goes into one of the caves where he waits and lights a cigarette in order to recover his equilibrium. When he comes back, Aziz finds the guide who is alone and says that he has heard a noise, the whine of a motor car. Aziz and the guide try to get a better look at the oncoming car. At this moment Aziz runs back to tell Miss Quested that a car is approaching and realizes that she has disappeared. The guide says that she went into a cave and Aziz berates the guide for not keeping track of her. Aziz is confused and a few seconds later sees that Miss Quested had joint her friends at the base of the hill. His relief is followed by disquiet as he finds Adela’s field glasses with a broken leather strap lying at the edge of a cave (Hoeppner).
In the course of the novel, Adela Quested claims that she has been sexually assaulted in the Marabar Caves by the young Indian doctor Aziz and the subsequent court case polarizes the two communities - the Indian and the English - until Adela admits that she was mistaken and that Aziz is innocent.