Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 10 : In which Passepartout is only too pleased to get away with losing just a shoe | Summary

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Summary

Before he leaves the Mongolia, Phileas Fogg gives Passepartout a list of errands and reminds him to be on the train by 8:00 that evening. After his passport is signed, Fogg returns to the train station for dinner. Fogg sends back the rabbit he is served and chides the waiter for serving it. While completing his errands, Passepartout chooses to spend the brief time he has in Bombay people-watching and sightseeing. Not realizing tourists are forbidden in Indian temples, he not only enters one but also disobeys a sacred law by wearing his shoes. Three priests attack him. They fist fight, and Passepartout breaks away but leaves his packages and shoes there. He boards the train at the last minute and is chastised by Fogg, who says, "I trust there'll be no repetition of this." Fix hears Passepartout's story and realizes Passepartout has broken British law. Even though the warrant for Fogg's arrest has yet to arrive, the detective boards the train, thinking he can use Passepartout's mistake to capture Phileas Fogg.

Analysis

Jules Verne segues from Phileas Fogg's adventure to offer a brief geographical, cultural, and historical lesson about India. By 1872 when Verne wrote the novel, imperialism and industrialization had made the world smaller. The English conquered and controlled many foreign lands. However, this "smallness" was very much a façade. There was still danger and unpredictability, as seen in references to parts of India still "beyond the power of Queen Victoria," to power remaining in the interior (foreshadowing Fogg's encounter with Hindu fanatics), to the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and to the imperial rivalry between France and England in West Bengal.

Time itself is untamed by imperialism. Geographic elements of space are concrete and not open to interpretation; this is seen in Fogg's argument with Andrew Stuart at the Reform Club in Chapter 3 when Fogg concentrates only on what can be proven mathematically—completed railroad systems, modern steamships, and their relationship with geographic space. Stuart, however, concerns himself with time—the unforeseen, which affects people slightly or powerfully depending on the situation. Despite this, Phileas Fogg neither anticipates nor dreads time, and it so happens he is always on time.

Passepartout is a respectful man. He has no idea he is disrespecting the Hindu people or customs when he enters a temple without removing his shoes. Both insults infuriate three priests, who attack him. He escapes a more serious beating after the clerics forcibly seize his socks and shoes and parcels of clothing. An understanding of the country's customs, traditions, and laws would have saved him from this ordeal. Perhaps this is the point Verne is trying to make by going into extensive detail about the country's culture.

Phileas Fogg reveals a droll sense of humor, a major break from his unemotional persona, after sampling the rabbit stew he orders at the train station. He questions the waiter about the type of meat in the dinner, and the waiter contends it is indeed rabbit—jungle rabbit. Fogg responds, "But didn't this rabbit miaow when it was killed?" Although his wry attitude evaporates when Fogg encounters Passepartout, who is missing both footwear and purchases, it adds dimension to the flat personality he has exhibited so far.

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