A passage to India
The setting of the novel is mainly the city of Chandrapore, while for the central incident it shifts to the Caves of Marabar, a sacred network of caves twenty miles away. The time is the beginning of the 20th century; India is till under British rule. According to the plot of this novel Mrs Moore, a widow, goes to Chandrapore where her son, Ronny Heaslop, is the City magistrate. She is accompanying a young lady Adela Quested, who is to marry her son. The two ladies are genuinely interested in life and culture of India.
While visiting a mosque, Mrs Moore happens to meet a young Muslim doctor, named Aziz, and they have a spontaneous dialogue, which leads to mutual confidence. Through Aziz, the two ladies also make the acquaintance of a Hindu Brahmin, the enigmatic Professor Godbole, a scholar of Indian traditions and beliefs.
Dr Aziz invites Mrs Moore and Miss Quested to visit the fabled Marabar Caves, near Chandrapore, which are considered a sacred Indian place. Both Mr Fielding (the Director of the Government school, a friend of Ronny and Aziz) and professor Godbole agree to accompany them, but unfortunately they miss the train which should take them to the place of reunion and the two ladies continue their journey with Dr Aziz. He has taken care, at his own expenses, of all the necessary arrangements (elephants for the transport of people and things, a lot of servants, food for the picnic, etc). But the trip turns out to be a fateful mistake.
On entering the first cave, Mrs Moore has a nervous crisis, connected with a frightening mysterious echo, which causes a kind of mystical experience, as if she were possessed by a supernatural power.
Miss Quested, in a desperate cave, is prey to disorientation and hallucinations, and, running out terrified, accuses Dr Aziz of having tried to rape her. Aziz is immediately imprisoned and put on trial. Mrs Moore is persuaded by her son to leave India before the trial, but she dies during the return voyage.
Race riots and disorders break out outside the Law Court where Aziz is being tried. Ronny Heaslop and all the English community are against Aziz, though there is no objective evidence for his guilt.
The trial is presided over by Ronny Heaslop's subordinate, the Indian Mr Das, while Mr McBryde, the Superintendent of Chandrapore Police, is the Public Prosecutor. The proceedings are an example of blind prejudice and contempt. But when Adela. Quested is questioned in the witness-box and swear to tell the truth, she withdraws her charge since, re-living the scene at the cave as if in a flashback, she realizes that she was alone there, and Aziz is innocent.
Mr Heaslop and the English community are deeply humiliated. Adela is ostracized, the engagement is broken off and she returns home. Mrs Moore who trusted the Indian people and "looked the Indian straight in the eyes" becomes a legend of wisdom and comprehension for the natives of Chandrapore. The events of the novel make the reader realize that no comprehension is possible between two different worlds.