Summary of Chapter Twenty-three: “In which Passepartout’s nose becomes outrageously long”
Passepartout is hungry the next morning and thinks of selling his watch but cannot bring himself to do this. He sells his European clothes instead for a Japanese outfit and has some change left over for food. He thinks of going on a steamer as a cook to get to America, but as he goes along he gets a better idea when he sees a sign in English advertising Japanese acrobats. They are putting on a last performance before embarking for the United States.
Passepartout gets an interview and first desires to be a servant, but the proprietor, calling himself the Honorable William Batulcar, says Passepartout should be a clown because the French know how to grimace. He is engaged as part of the Long Noses, or acrobats who wear long false noses as perches for other acrobats to balance upon.
The performance has juggling acts and gymnasts. The Long Noses are dedicated to the god Tingou and dress in medieval clothes with noses of bamboo between five and ten feet long. Passepartout remembers his youth in a circus. He takes his place at the bottom of a human pyramid. It begins to reach towards the ceiling, when suddenly, the pyramid falls. Passepartout sees Fogg and Aouda in the audience and runs to them, leaving the other acrobats on the floor. Batulcar is furious, but Fogg pays him damages, and the party rushes off to catch the steamer to America with Passepartout still dressed in his costume and long nose.
Commentary on Chapter Twenty-three
This is a comic and fantastic scene with a vivid description of a Japanese circus run by an American. Passepartout is in his element, as he spent his youth as a circus performer, but he is grateful to be rescued by his master. It is significant that he cannot sell his watch, even when hungry. Like his master he clings to his timepiece. It is a symbol of what holds them together, for they had synchronized their watches in the beginning, and they are still in tune. The next chapter explains how Fogg found Passepartout in such an out of the way place.