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MOTES 1 Hilda Addison, Mary Webb: A Short Study of Her Life and Work (Lond: C. Palmer,"1931TT-PP. 54-35; Thomas Moult, Mary Webb: Her Life and Work (Lond: J. Cape, 1932), pp. 112-32. For a bibliography of abstracts of writings about Mrs. Webb, see Charles Sanders, "Mary Webb: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings About Her," ELT, IX: 3 (1966), 119-36. 2 Mary Webb, The Golden Arrow (Lond: J. Cape, 1916), p. 115, hereafter cited by page numbers parenthetically in the text. 3 See Gertrud Schneider, Die Verwendung und Bedeutung der Folk-Lore in den Romanen von Mary Webb (GoettIngen: University of Goettlngen, T934T7 pp. 62-64T" IMAGERY OF A PASSAGE TO INDIA: A FURTHER NOTE By M. L. Ralna (Panjab University, Chandigarh, India) The present note Is a follow-up on George H. Thomson's suggestive note on the snake Imagery In A Passage to India [ELT, IX: 2 (I966), 108-10]. Thomson refers to the polarity between the cave and the temple and the arch and the echo as forming the main symbolic pivots of the novel and regards the snake imagery as of secondary Importance. My purpose Is to show that this Imagery can also be related to the major polarities If studied In Juxtaposition to the Imagery of birds, insects and animals. In his descriptions of the Indian landscape Förster makes frequent references to birds, snakes, insects and animals. For Instance when Mrs. Moore Is hanging her cloak and uttering endearments to the wasp (p. 38),1 we have a mention of birds. Insects, bats and Jackals whose presence Increases the forebodings of doom already lurking on the horizon. In chapter 10 (p. 119) the slimy squirrel hanging opposite Aziz's bungalow "twitching a mangy tall" accentuates the destructive symbolism of the sun.2 In the same chapter we see brown birds looking out for lnsects--a grim portent of the events to follow later In the novel. In Imagery like this Förster presents a forceful and concrete picture of the human condition following the destruction of order. It Is In the repeated mention of birds and snakes that a symbolic tension Is built which, when Interpreted In terms of Indian mythology, represents a larger tension between the earth and the sky, the fierce sun energy and the fertilizing power of the earth. In Indian mythology snakes are associated with the earth. They are among the Yakshas (genii) representing the forces of the soil.3 The bird (eagle In particular) Is associated with the sun force. Although Förster does not mention the eagle his reference to kites makes them sufficiently plausible embodiments of the sun energy. In the bridge party chapter we find the attempts of people at communication mocked by kites and vultures lurking In the distance. But 9. the m st powerful vse of the kite image as symbolic of the hostile sun energy is when Mrs. Moore is entering one of the Marabar caves (P. 153). They skirted the puddle of water, and then climbed up over some unattractive stones, the sun crashing on their backs. Bending their heads, they disappeared one by one into the interior of the hills............ Solid and white, a Erahminy kite flapped between the rocks with a clumsiness that seemed intentional. Before man, with his itch for the seemly, had been born, the planet must have looked thus. The kites flapped away......Before birds, perhaps............ Kites and birds are negative symbols hinting at the frustration of man's attempts at order and regeneration. The serpent as a conspicuous image figures in the Kawa DoI episode. While Miss Quested and party are moving towards the caves they see the twisted stump of a toddy tree which looks like a cobra (p. 147) by the side of a water course. The juxtaposition of the reptile and water -Is significant , for in Indian mythology the serpent is regarded as the guardian of life-giving waters.^" The thematic significance of the Image is that it symbolises the emasculation of the earth spirit by the fierce sun energy. This is further Implied by a pervasive sense of exhaustion in the whole landscape. "As the elephant moved towards...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 8-9
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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