Answer: Marabar Caves serve a very remarkable significance in the famous humanitarian novel “A Passage to India”. In the Marabar Caves the cross cultural tensions rises to its climax. In these caves Mrs. Moore, Adela Quested and Aziz are totally changed. The visit to these cause causes the physical and spiritual breakdown of Mrs. Moore, leads Adela Quested to the verge of madness and lads Aziz to his absolute ruin. The visit to the Marabar Caves shows that a passage to India is never possible. It also shows the racial prejudice of the Christians against Islam. Now we shall see what happens in the Marabar Caves.
Dr. Aziz invites Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested to become his guest and visit the caves. They all respond to the cordial invitation of Aziz and he is proud of it. He says. “I am like a Babur.” Actually he thinks that one of the dreams of his life is fulfilled. But the incident goes reverse. Mrs. Moore and Adela lose their charm of visit or journey even in the train before going to the destination. They feel unwell. But they visit the caves and everything goes reverse.
In the cave Mrs. Moore loses her interest. Mysteriously she is completely changed. Suddenly she thinks relation between man and man is meaningless and it does not matter, man is the matter. In the dark and small caves she thinks that everything in the world is meaningless. She loses her interest in her son Ronny Heaslop and even in Dr. Aziz whom she loves very much. He loses the power of making distinction between God and devil, good and evil. Everything seems to her worthless. Even her existence is to her worth less.
Now a question arises why is she so changed? In fact, in the caves she hears an echo. The caves are small and lifeless. She may have heard the shrieking of some nocturnal birds. This echo touches her heart; it breaks down her physical and mental sanity. Besides, the darkness and the smallness of the caves man remind her of her death and grave and it may provoke her to think of final nothingness, that is death. So she, since her visit to the caves, remains detached from the real world. Ultimately she leaves India and in way to England she dies and meets a watery grave in the Mediterranean Sea.
The same echo haunts Adela Quested. Probably the darkness and the mysterious atmosphere of the caves provoke her to think about her loveless marriage with Ronny. She thinks that she does not love Ronny but she will have to spend a loveless conjugal life with him. So she innocently asks Aziz how many wives he possesses. Aziz takes it otherwise because he, unlike other Muslims, does not believe that a Muslim will have four wives. So out of annoyance, he possesses into another caver and lits a cigarette. Meanwhile Adela is attacked by hallucination that Aziz is trying to rape her. So she rushes out the caves and files up a case in the nearby thane accusing Aziz as a rapist.
In fact, Aziz is never attracted to Adela Quested. So to him Adela is a breast less woman and moreover Adela is sensible, not sensitive. Besides Aziz’s free, frank character shows that he can never practice this heinous crime. Most probably Adela laces the mental balance in the caves. Her field glasses are lost in the narrow caves and she is knocked at by the wall of the narrow darkness. For this reason she, out of hallucination, fears that Aziz is making an attempt to rape her.
Symbolically interpreted, the caves show the primitive nature is man. Caves are the dwelling place of the primitive people. Uncivilized and primitive people were fond of bloodshed, vengeance and chaos. In the same manner in the caves Adela’s primitive nature arouses and she accuses an innocent man of rape. Mrs. Moore fails to keep balance with the primitive atmosphere and so she suffers from physical as well as spiritual break down. Another interpretation is also possible here. An eminent critic has mentioned that the caves symbolize Man’s attitude to Knowledge. Aziz achieves Knowledge that peace or passage is not possible unless and until the Anglo Indians leave India.
Thus the Marabar Caves are the pivot of A Passage to India. The crisis that rises out of the visit to these caves pervades throughout the novel. It also shows the cross cultural tensions. After the unexpected incident of the caves, though he was acquitted, Aziz becomes reluctant and begins to hate the Anglo- Indians and says that he would rather go to some Moslem country to do job than to serve under the Anglo-Indians. In this way, the caves are the central focus of the novel round which the whole novel revolves.