Around the World in Eighty Days: Chapter 11

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Summary of Chapter Eleven: “In which Phileas Fogg secures a curious means of conveyance at a fabulous price”

 

The train leaves on time with British officers and opium merchants among the passengers. Fogg and Passepartout sit in a carriage with Sir Francis Cromarty, a brigadier general and whist partner from the Mongolia. He has spent a lifetime in India, a distinguished man of fifty, full of information about the land they are passing through. Fogg is not interested enough to ask questions. The general wonders about his coldness. Fogg is thinking of the journey and how much time they have expended. He has told the general of his trip around the world, and the general wonders at Fogg’s lack of common sense.

 

Sir Francis tells Fogg that before the railway he would have been stopped at the base of the mountains because the train ended there, but Fogg assures him that he has foreseen all obstacles. Sir Francis also warns him about trouble with Passepartout’s temple adventure; he has broken the law. Fogg says that it is Passepartout’s problem; not his.

 

They pass the mountains and continue on a plain with jungles in the distance. At the first stop, Passepartout buys some Indian slippers to wear for shoes. He begins to change as they cross India. Before, he had hoped they would return home and the journey would be given up. Now, his wandering nature returns, and he sees the romance of the bet and the trip around the world. He becomes personally involved in the outcome.

 

When on the second day Sir Francis asks the time of Passepartout, he consults his watch and gives the time in London, now four hours behind their time as they travel eastward. In the evening the train stops, and the conductor explains there is no more railroad. The tracks are not finished. The papers had been mistaken, even though the party has purchased tickets to Calcutta.

 

Sir Francis says to Fogg that this will delay his journey, but Fogg says he has foreseen obstacles, and that he is two days ahead of schedule. They look around in the village for vehicles and finding nothing, Fogg announces they will go by foot, but Passepartout finds an elephant, Kiouni, and Fogg buys the elephant for two thousand pounds and engages a Parsee driver. They buy provisions and set off overland with the brigadier general through dense jungles.

 

Commentary on Chapter Eleven

 

This chapter further advances characterization in making Fogg the static figure who is not influenced by the adventure he is on, while Passepartout begins a metamorphosis. The servant returns to his earlier romantic and adventurous self and now takes the bet and the trip seriously. He feels that Fogg’s mission is his own.

 

The chapter also further comments on time, noting again that as they travel east, the hour advances from Greenwich time. They are now four hours ahead of London time, and the days are shorter by four minutes for each degree or meridian they pass as they go towards the sun. This key piece of information is repeated because on it hinges the secret of success.

 

Once again, Fogg insists that he has calculated into his plan such obstacles, and so he is not upset by the delay. Whereas for most people, the end of the rail line would be the end of the bet and the journey, for Fogg it is a stimulus to find some other means to continue. Purchasing an elephant for 2,000 pounds is a fantastic element to the story that adds to the entertainment and demonstrates Fogg’s determination.

 

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