Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 11 : In which Phileas Fogg pays a phenomenal price for a means of transport | Summary

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Summary

During the train ride from Bombay to Allahabad, Sir Francis Cromarty and Phileas Fogg debate the soundness of the adventurer's wager. Sir Cromarty and Fogg argue about unpredictable situations that could arise. Fogg insists he has "constantly foreseen the likelihood of certain obstacles." When Sir Cromarty points out Passepartout's disobedience to a strict religious law, Fogg says his servant's arrest would have ended Passepartout's trip, not his.

Suddenly the train stops. The railway isn't finished, and the travelers will have to find their own transportation to catch up with a different train. The end of the railroad line in Kholby seems like a trip-ending disaster. However, Fogg states they are two days ahead of schedule and will reach Calcutta on time. Meanwhile, Passepartout finds an elephant, Kiouni, to transport them. Fogg buys the animal, and a Parsee elephant driver offers to guide them to Allahabad, where they can catch a train.

Analysis

Sir Francis Cromarty describes Fogg as just "matter in orbit around the globe." He promotes an extended metaphor running throughout the novel—Fogg as a machine—by questioning his companion's level of compassion, seeing him as a man with no moral ambition to better others' lives or even his own. Although Fogg tolerates Passepartout's illegal entry into the Hindu temple, he would have abandoned his valet if the man had been arrested and jeopardized his chance of winning the wager. Sir Cromarty's critical thoughts foreshadow situations in which Fogg will have to choose between revealing concern or remaining emotionally frozen.

Passepartout's desire to just relax and play the tourist disappears like his shoes and socks. Now he vows to throw every bit of energy into helping his employer win. Perhaps he is grateful to Fogg for only rebuking him for the temple fiasco and not turning him over to the authorities for his crime. Taking to heart Phileas Fogg's faith in logic over emotion and overcoming his doubts, Passepartout fully embraces Fogg's wager and becomes determined to not be the cause of "possible delays and accidents."

Here again readers see the colonial backdrop of the novel and the colonial bias of its author: Verne tends to conflate criminality and religion in his references to the "worshippers of Kali." In general he takes an approach to Eastern religions that is dissonant to modern readers' sensibilities. In his day (as evidenced by the perspective of his characters), Eastern religions were often viewed as savage and fanatical.

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