Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 20 : In which Fix comes into direct contact with Phileas Fogg | Summary

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Summary

Believing the Carnatic is not leaving until the next morning, Phileas Fogg takes Mrs. Aouda shopping for an appropriate wardrobe, one she will need now that she is traveling to America and Europe with Fogg. They eat breakfast back at the hotel, and then Mrs. Aouda returns to her room while Fogg reads the newspapers. Passepartout does not show up in the morning at the hotel or at the quay. At the port Fogg finds out the Carnatic left the previous evening. Fix, who has been waiting at the quay, introduces himself to Fogg and Mrs. Aouda. He explains they traveled on the Rangoon together and he is looking for Passepartout. He acts surprised Passepartout is not with them. Undeterred by missing the boat, Fogg searches the port until he meets John Bunsby, the owner and captain of the Tankadère. Bunsby says he cannot take them to Yokohama, Japan, but will transport them to Shanghai, China, where they can catch a steamer to Yokohama and another ship to America. Fogg offers to pay Fix's fee on the ship, too. Fogg inquires about Passepartout at the Hong Kong police station and French consulate. An hour later the Tankadère pulls away from the dock at 3:10 p.m. Passepartout has yet to be found.

Analysis

Phileas Fogg just might be the poster boy for the adage "Actions speak louder than words." He is incapable of expressing his emotions, but in situation after situation, he displays an exceptional heroism in his actions, which he doesn't articulate in words. During Mrs. Aouda's rescue, he would have charged the Brahmin horde to save her. In Hong Kong, when Mrs. Aouda discovers her relative has moved to Holland, Fogg doesn't hesitate to invite her to America and back to London with him, where he will try to locate her cousin. He buys her a whole new wardrobe and other necessities for the trip, sparing no expense, and brushes off her apologies for the costs by saying, "It's part of my plan."

Like in Calcutta, Fogg doesn't turn his back on Passepartout to save himself. Only after paying any repatriation costs Passepartout might incur at the police station and the French consulate does he board the Tankadère. The time and money he expends to find Passepartout turn up no results. This is the first time money is unable to solve Phileas Fogg's problem, showing its limits. However, Passepartout's disappearance is actually linked to Fix's greed and unethical interference, something more malignant than an unexpected circumstance.

Further, the idea that Phileas Fogg can plan for the unexpected, which repeats throughout the novel, has the effect of making his character appear mysterious and even more heroic than his acts of kindness. It is unlikely he literally planned to rescue Mrs. Aouda, but the reader cannot be certain at this point it is out of the question.

In contrast, Fix's actions are not admirable in the least. When Phileas Fogg generously pays to have Fix join them on the Tankadère, the detective sets aside his mortification for accepting a gift from a man he has deemed a thief. He also shrugs off treating Passepartout shamefully. Never at a loss for words to excuse his own duplicity and point a finger at someone else, he says about Fogg, "He's a polite crook, but he's a crook all the same."

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