Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 23 : In which Passepartout grows an exceedingly long nose | Summary



After spending the night near the port in Yokohama, Japan, Passepartout awakens at dawn starving and penniless. He decides he looks too well-dressed to sing for money, so he sells his clothes and buys a well-worn Japanese robe, leaving him just enough money left over to buy food. He wanders the streets until he spies an advertisement for an acrobatic troupe that happens to be in Japan but is returning to America soon. He decides to see if he can get a job as a servant. When Mr. Batulcar, the owner of the troupe, finds out Passepartout can sing and perform acrobatics, he hires Passepartout to be a clown. Passepartout's first performance is to help form the bottom of a four-tiered pyramid, but he has to attach a six–foot-long bamboo nose to his face. The other acrobats stand on the noses and leap around. While he lies on the floor, Passepartout spies Phileas Fogg and Mrs. Aouda in the audience. Immediately, he abandons his spot, destroying the human structure. Recognizing his servant, Fogg says, "Let's get to the steamer, my fellow," paying off the angry Mr. Batulcar for ruining the performance, and the three make their way to the port to catch a steamer headed to America.


Passepartout continues to demonstrate his independent and practical nature, knowing he must find employment if he is to earn money to get to America. Pride has never kept Passepartout from earning a living. He considers no job beneath him if it is legal and moral. He is thrilled when he lands a job with an acrobatic troupe because he will be able to travel to America with them. If acting the clown and sporting a six-foot-long bamboo nose with a man posed on top is his ticket to America, he accepts this as his penance. Throughout the story, Passepartout's every action has been selfless. He has performed his valet responsibilities to Fogg's exacting requirements with respect and completed every request to take care of Fogg's and Mrs. Aouda's personal needs with precision except for losing his purchases in Bombay when he entered the Hindu temple. He is suffused with guilt for being the reason Fogg has wasted time and money and for causing Fogg to miss the ship to Yokohama. He is anxious to reach San Francisco, where he can figure out how to get back to London, so he can make amends for his flagrant errors.

When he spies Mrs. Aouda and Fogg in the audience, he forgets his shame and calls out to them. This shows trust in Fogg's honor and integrity and speaks to Fogg's treatment of his servant. Relieved to find Passepartout is well, Fogg never rebukes Passepartout but simply and warmly says, "Let's get to the steamer, my fellow." Fogg pacifies Mr. Batulcar by paying for the ruined performance, and they hurry to the American steamer. Fogg has retained his faith in his wager through the stress of the delayed journey, but he also adds depth to this theme by revealing his sincere belief in his servant. The trio is thrilled to be reunited.

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