Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 31 : In which Inspector Fix takes Phileas Fogg's interests very much to heart | Summary

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Summary

Fix must get Phileas Fogg back to England so he can arrest him. He fears he could lose the robber and the reward, so he tells Fogg about a sledge, a large toboggan with sails and sled runners, which can transport them to Omaha, Nebraska. Fogg makes a deal with Mudge, the sledge owner, and Mudge vows he can get them to Omaha in the eight-hour limit. The five of them, including Mudge, pile into the sledge's seats, cover themselves with piles of travel rugs, and sail over the flat prairies. Shortly after noon, they pull into the Omaha station and catch a train to Chicago, Illinois. At 4:00 the next afternoon, December 10, they board a train to New York City. On December 11 at 11:15 p.m., the train pulls into the station, where Fogg, Passepartout, Mrs. Aouda, and Fix can catch the China, the Cunard Line's ship, to Liverpool, England, but the ship had left 45 minutes earlier.

Analysis

In the previous chapter, a mysterious man speaks to Fix during the night, foreshadowing an unexpected event. The man's name is Mudge, who owns a sledge, a vehicle similar to a large toboggan with sails. Fix gets to save the day. Has Fix decided Phileas Fogg is not the criminal after all? This is Verne's way of shifting narrative perspective—from an omniscient narrator to a limited narrator—to solve plot issues. It also serves to maintain the tension and suspicion of the story. Throughout the novel, unlikely as it is, there is a smidgen of doubt about whether or not Phileas Fogg is the bank robber or an innocent man. There are similar questions arising from Passepartout's motivation for keeping Fix a secret from Phileas Fogg. Verne tries to troubleshoot this discrepancy early in the novel by explaining the English characteristic to obey the law. This is why Passepartout is happy when he does not have to travel separately with Mrs. Aouda back to Europe. Passepartout does not want the untrustworthy Fix to be alone with Fogg. Passepartout respects Fix's authority as a police inspector, but he will not tolerate any illegal or unethical foul play he knows Fix is capable of. Devastated he has caused Fogg's desperate position, he offers Fogg his total faith and vows to protect the man who put his life and fortune on the line for him.

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