should critised the setting and focus more on the atmosphere and the Marabar Caves
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Chandrapore is the setting for this story. The poverty of the lower tier of the city is emblematic of the lives of most of the native Indians. The second tier indicates that there are areas of the city that are not so impoverished; but only the upper tier, the one occupied by the British occupiers, exhibits any level of affluence. This is what this story is about−the separation of the races, the classes, and even the religions of the inhabitants of India in this period of time. The date is ambiguous. Some critics say that it reflects the India of 1912, Forster's first visit. However, others feel that it is between 1912 and his second visit in 1921, when the unrest and resentment against the British
that eventually led to Indian independence had reached a fever pitch. In 1919, British troops had fired on unarmed protesters at Amritsar in Punjab Province, killing a large number. This incident became known as the Amritsar Massacre. By the time Forster visited in 1921, the feelings of the Indians were much more volatile than are pictured in A Passage to India. It's reasonable to assume that the setting is sometime between 1912 and 1919.
"This first chapter of the Mosque section is a description of Chandrapore, an undistinguished, medium-sized, Indian city located on the river Ganges. Just outside the city proper, on a slight elevation above it, is the British colony, consisting of a brick clubhouse and a group of bungalows where members of the Indian civil service live, as far as possible from the natives. Though Chandrapore has many gardens and a few fine houses, Forster tells us, it is essentially "meagre" and "monotonous." Its only unusual geographical feature is the Marabar Hills, which contain "the extraordinary caves." And only the sky can rain "glory" onto the insignificant little town, because over this endless, prostrate Indian plain only the sky is "so strong and so enormous."
Forster introduces some of the book's central imagery in this first brief chapter-the mysteriously changing, all-controlling sky of India; the endless, seemingly meaningless Indian plain; the "meagre," impoverished city, so shapeless and "muddled" to western eyes; and the "sensibly planned" British colony, cut off from the rest of the town in location and design; as well as, most important, the "extraordinary" Marabar caves, which will summarize many of Forster's main themes in one especially dramatic symbol."