Around the World in Eighty Days: Chapter 20

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Summary of Chapter Twenty: “In which Fix comes face to face with Phileas Fogg”

 

Mr. Fogg conducts Aouda around Hong Kong to make purchases for her for the long journey. He tells her it is part of his plan when she says she doesn’t want to be any trouble.

 

They return to the hotel for the night, not knowing the steamer Carnatic is leaving that evening. Fogg is surprised when Passepartout does not show up either that evening or the next morning when they have to leave. They go to the quay and learn that the Carnatic has already sailed. Fogg, however, takes the disappearance of his servant and the ship with his usual calm, calling it “an accident” (p. 103).

 

Just then a strange man approaches Fogg and asks if he was a passenger on the Rangoon. Fogg says yes. The man is Fix who says he thought he would find Fogg’s servant with him.  Aouda anxiously asks if Fix knows where he is, and he says no; he must wait for another steamer because the Carnatic left early, and no other steamer will leave for a week. Fix is happy that Fogg will be detained now.

 

Fogg takes Aouda’s arm and says there are other vessels. He wanders around the docks looking for a boat to charter to Yokohama. He finds a boat, the Tankadere, but the sailor, John Bunsby, says he can’t go as far as Japan. Fogg offers him a hundred pounds per day, plus two hundred if they get to Yokohama on time. Fogg asks Aouda if she would be afraid, and she says no. The pilot says he cannot go directly to Yokohama, but he could go to Nagasaki or Shanghai, and the San Francisco steamer starts from Shanghai anyway. It leaves Shanghai four days hence, and if the sea is calm they will get there in time.

 

Fogg goes to the Hong Kong police station and leaves a description of Passepartout and some money to search for him. He does the same at the French consulate. John Bunsby and four seamen man the Tankadere, which is like a racing yacht. Fogg offers to take Fix with him so he can also reach his destination. Fix feels shame that he has to take Fogg’s kindness and worries that Passepartout will show up to denounce him. He does not and the Tankadere leaves port.

 

Commentary on Chapter 20

 

Once again, Fogg is not disturbed by an “accident.” Fix assumes that Fogg, like most people, would wait a week for the next steamer. He does not know Fogg’s determination. Furthermore, he does not know Fogg’s generosity and is confused by the supposed criminal being so kind as to assist him. Aouda proves her worthiness as Fogg’s companion by not being afraid of embarking on the slight vessel, which must keep near the Chinese coast instead of going to the open sea. Verne takes some time in describing each boat, and this time he describes a yacht rather than a steamer. Verne himself built his own yachts and sailed them around Europe, so he takes some interest in the details. The Tankadere, however, hoists an English flag.

 

Fix is certainly more the criminal than Fogg at this point. He has kidnapped and drugged Fogg’s servant and then hypocritically pretended he didn’t know his whereabouts. The complications are getting knottier, but Fogg’s course is direct, and each delay seems to give an advantage for making up time or taking a short cut. Fogg’s creativity is aided by his endless bag of money; Fix believes he spends the stolen funds, yet he accepts Fogg’s hospitality.

 

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