Around the World in Eighty Days | Study Guide

Jules Verne

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Around the World in Eighty Days | Chapter 6 : In which the Detective Fix shows a quite understandable impatience | Summary

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Summary

Detective Fix from the Metropolitan Police stands with the British consul on the dock in Suez in Egypt. Fix is waiting for the steamship Mongolia to arrive from Brandisi, assuming Phileas Fogg is on the steamer. Fix is convinced Phileas Fogg is the gentleman bank robber who is using the wager as a means of escape. The detective quizzes the British consul about the steamship Mongolia's reputation as a reliable vessel, its last port of call, and its destination after refueling in Suez, which is Bombay, India. The British consul suggests Fogg may not be the robber, saying, "You must realize that from the description you've received the thief is a perfectly respectable-looking person." Fix is convinced he is right and hurries to the quay when the ship arrives. Fix accidentally meets Passepartout, who asks Fix for directions to the consul's office so he can get his employer's passport stamped. Fix cannot believe his good luck. He tells Passepartout Phileas Fogg must be present for the consul to sign the passport.

Analysis

Two new characters are introduced in Chapter 6. The British consul in Suez is minor enough not to be given a name, but he conveys the humor Verne uses to reveal Fix's real motive: the reward money. Fix isn't determined to catch a thief and return the stolen money to the bank, but rather he's excited about the amount of money he will earn. His obsession is demonstrated best when he says, "People get themselves hanged for only a few shillings these days." The bigger the robbery, the more money Fix will make. He will get £2,000 and 5% for bringing the money back to the bank. The British consul's argument that perhaps Fix is wrong about the suspect based on the robber looking honest shows a typical attitude of the time: those of the upper classes are morally superior. Verne pokes fun at this viewpoint and policing in general.

The description of Detective Fix resembles a fox in his physical traits and personality. Like a fox, the detective is slight of stature, tenacious about reaching his goal, shrewd, and clever. Likewise, his name highlights his dogged belief that his hunch is correct. Fix likely interprets his accidental run-in with Passepartout at the end of the chapter as a sign that he is right.

The setting for this incident is noteworthy and highlights the imperialist backdrop of the novel. The Suez Canal was a sore spot in British-French relations. Put off by France's leadership in the development of the canal, Britain not only refused to buy shares but also organized a boycott to discourage other investors. Shortly after Around the World in Eighty Days was published, Britain acquired 44% ownership in the canal; however, while Verne was writing the novel the canal was dominated by the French. Its honorable mention here may be a flourish of Verne's own national pride.

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