Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 27 : In which Passepartout receives a lecture on Mormon history while traveling at a speed of twenty miles per hour | Summary



At 11:00 a.m. on December 5, Mr. William Hitch, a missionary on his way to Ogden, Utah, offers a lecture on Mormonism. Passepartout, along with 29 others, attend the Mormon history lesson. As William Hitch advocates for the founders of the Mormon religion and how the leaders and their followers suffer at the hands of the United States government, passengers leave the car one by one until Passepartout is the only person left. Just before the train pulls into Ogden, Passepartout also abandons the meeting. He joins his travel companions—surprisingly including Phileas Fogg, who never leaves the train—for a quick tour of Salt Lake City.


In this chapter as in the prior one, Verne concentrates on one aspect of American life—in this case, Mormonism. He presents a new character, Mr. William Hitch, a missionary for the Church of the Latter-day Saints. Passepartout is always open to learning about philosophies, customs, and traditions unknown to him, as he has shown in Bombay and Yokohama. He attends the meeting, expecting to learn about the tenets of Mormonism. Instead, he realizes Hitch is presenting a diatribe against the federal government in support of the sect's leaders, brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young. The man's lecture, which includes some factual errors, focuses on the religion and its persecution by the United States government, and the missionary becomes exceedingly angry as he drones on and on.

Passepartout has shown respect for all people to whom he is introduced, and he continues to do so with Mr. Hitch. The valet is the last lecture attendee holdout, but he leaves when Hitch pressures him to convert. His curiosity and desire to learn about diverse philosophies sometimes leads this congenial man into difficulties he isn't sure how to resolve. He knows how to fight against storms at sea and to avenge his honor with deceitful people like Fix, but he doesn't understand how to extricate himself from situations where he might hurt someone's feelings. In this context and with such an innocent character as Passepartout, Verne can heighten the satire of the situation.

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