A Passage to India: Novel Summary: Chapters 26-29
Fielding and Adela discuss what happened in the courtroom. Adela says that she has been ill since before the expedition to the caves. Fielding believes that Adela was alone in the cave all the time, and merely suffered a hallucination that made her think she was being attacked. The hallucination only broke down in the face of McBryde's direct question. Another possibility they consider is that the man in the cave was the guide. But they cannot know for certain. Hamidullah arrives and utters some reproachful words to Adela. There is some discussion about where Adela should stay, and while that matter remains unresolved, Ronny arrives, but he will not come in the house, he and Fielding being on bad terms. Fielding informs Hamidullah that Ronny has heard that his mother has died at sea. Adela returns from speaking with Ronny and says she would like to stay where she is, at the college, for the next few days.
That night, after Aziz's victory banquet at the home of the Nawab, who is now known as Mr. Zulfiqar, they all talk on the roof. Fielding has joined them. He tries to persuade Aziz not to seek damages from Miss Quested. Aziz is reluctant to do this, and certainly not without an apology from her. He also says he will consult Mrs. Moore, his friend, but Fielding has to tell him that she is dead. Aziz does not believe him.
In Chandrapore a legend springs up around Mrs. Moore. It is said that an Englishman killed his mother for trying to save an Indian's life. It is even reported that the remains of Mrs. Moore, who is now known locally as Esmiss Esmoor, have been found in a tomb nearby. Meanwhile, Ronny decides that he cannot marry Adela, since it would mean the end of his career.
The Lieutenant Governor of the Province visits Chandrapore, applauds the outcome of the trial, and insists that Fielding rejoin the club. Fielding starts to appreciate Adela's best qualities, and she tries to write a letter of apology to Aziz. Fielding still tries to get Aziz to drop his claim of damages against her. Aziz eventually agrees to do so. Fielding and Adela again talk of what happened in the cave. She says the truth will never be known, although Mrs. Moore knew it, possibly by telepathy. Fielding rejects this idea scornfully. Ten days later, Adela begins her journey back to England.
No rational explanation is ever offered for what happened in the cave. Fielding is baffled by Adela's vagueness and her talk of telepathy. He is a man who believes in facts, and is uncomfortable with anything mystical. He proposes the idea of the long hallucination, caused by Adela's illness. This is not a very satisfactory explanation, but it is the best Fielding can do.
The caves in fact serve a philosophical function in the novel. For Mrs. Moore, they symbolize an immersion into an alien religious philosophy that adversely affects the stability of her personality. For Adela, it is probably more useful to think of the caves as symbolizing the unconscious mind. What she thinks happened in the cave may well have been a reflection of her subconscious fears.