Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 13 : In which Passepartout proves once again that fortune favours the bold | Summary

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Summary

Phileas Fogg, Sir Cromarty, and Passepartout agree they must rescue the woman from being burned with her dead husband. The elephant driver explains the woman, Mrs. Aouda, is a Parsee like he is, and he will do whatever is necessary to save her. He tells them she was raised by her wealthy father in Bombay and received an English education. When her father died, she was forced to marry an elderly rajah. With their guide's knowledge of the situation, they make a plan to abduct the woman from the temple. A human cry from inside the temple forces them to abort their plan and hide in the forest. They discuss leaving, but Fogg insists they wait for another opportunity. In the morning Passepartout jumps into the pyre just as the priests light the blaze; when he rises in the smoke and flames, the mourners think the rajah has come back to life, so they prostrate themselves out of respect. Passepartout, Mrs. Aouda, Fogg, Sir Cromarty, and the elephant driver flee through the forest. Brahmin guards shoot at them until they are out of range.

Analysis

Mrs. Aouda's plight touches the hearts of the men but none more deeply than Phileas Fogg's. He has never shown any feelings toward others before, but his willingness to sacrifice his fortune and to endure torture or death to save an unknown woman shows such compassion it teases the thought he has faced danger before and maybe even backed away from it. Another theory suggests he did challenge it but, true to his nature, chooses to keep it private. In Chapter 1 it is mentioned no one knows if Fogg has ever left London, but, "There wasn't a single spot in the world he didn't know in detail." It's possible Fogg's disinterested attitude isn't revealing coldness after all but rather a "been there, done that" attitude—perhaps he is only a self-assured colonialist whose country, from his perspective, has mapped the world. His life is so defined he never wastes a step. If he has seen these lands before, he has no desire to expend emotion on them again, saving his strength to win the wager.

Whatever his reason, Phileas Fogg puts himself at risk instead of sitting back in the safety of Kiouni's shadow and letting the other three men confront the deadly consequences. He reveals more humanity when he waits for an opportunity to save Mrs. Aouda instead of insisting they leave. Sir Cromarty is surprised to find Fogg clutching a knife and, when the pyre is lit, realizes Fogg is ready to charge into the fire. Supporting the self-sacrifice theme in the novel, the actions of all four of the men—Fogg's choice to delay their journey and jeopardize his winning the wager, their strategizing, and the rescue itself—prove they are willing to sacrifice their lives to prevent a major injustice when they see one.

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