The hills containing the Marabar Caves are older than anything else on earth. The rocky hills thrust up abruptly from the soil and resemble nothing else in the surrounding landscape. Each cave has a narrow entrance tunnel that leads to a large, dark, circular chamber. If a match is lit inside the caves, its reflection appears clearly in the polished stone of the cave walls. The caves seem to embody nothingness; their reputation spreads not just by word of mouth, but seemingly through the earth itself or through the animals. On the highest hill of the rock formations precariously rests a large boulder, which is thought to be hollow. The hill is called Kawa Dol.
Looking toward the Marabar Hills one day, Adela remarks that she would have liked to visit them with Aziz. Her servant overhears the remark, and exaggerated word of it travels to Aziz, who feels that he must make good on his earlier offer. The outing involves many details and much expense on Aziz’s part, but he organizes everything and invites Fielding and Godbole, along with the two ladies, to Marabar. Ronny gives permission for the women to go, as long as Fielding goes along with them.
The train that travels to the hills leaves just before dawn, so Aziz, Mohammed Latif, and many servants spend the night at the train station to avoid being late. Mrs. Moore, Adela, and the women’s servant, Antony, arrive early in the morning. Adela dislikes Antony and, on Aziz’s suggestion, orders him to go home. Antony refuses, however, on Ronny’s orders, until Mohammed Latif bribes him to leave.
Though Fielding has not yet arrived with Godbole, Aziz is not nervous because he knows that Englishmen never miss trains. Aziz reviews the details of the trip with Mohammed Latif, who is to oversee the railway carriage. Suddenly, the train starts to move just as Fielding and Godbole arrive at the station. Fielding yells that Godbole’s overlong prayers have made them late, and the Englishman tries unsuccessfully to jump on the train. Aziz becomes panicked and desperate, but Mrs. Moore and Adela reassure him that the outing will continue successfully without Fielding. Aziz suddenly feels love for the two women—Mrs. Moore especially—for their graciousness and blindness to race.
[Mrs. Moore] felt . . . that, though people are important, the relations between them are not, and that in particular too much fuss has been made over marriage.See Important Quotations Explained
Ever since they heard Godbole sing his Hindu song at Fielding’s tea, Adela and Mrs. Moore have lived as though inside cocoons—not feeling anything. Mrs. Moore accepts her apathy, but Adela blames herself for her feelings of indifference. Adela even fakes excitement at times because she feels like she should be excited.
During the train ride, Adela thinks and chats with Mrs. Moore about her future plans. The elder Englishwoman, who is not in good health, feels impatient with marriage. She thinks to herself that society’s valuation of marriage over other relationships has stunted its understanding of human nature.