Summary of Chapter 30: “In which Phileas Fogg simply does his duty”
Passepartout and two other people had disappeared from the train. Others were wounded but no one killed. Colonel Proctor was wounded by a bullet to the groin. Fogg, though in the thick of the fight was not hurt. Aouda weeps at the loss of Passepartout. Fogg now has to decide whether to go on or to rescue Passepartout from the Sioux. He tells Aouda he will find his servant no matter the cost. Aouda is grateful.
Fogg tries to get the soldiers to go with him, but they refuse until he insists he will go alone. Thirty volunteers decide to go with him. Fix wants to go to keep Fogg in view, but Fogg asks him to look after Aouda in case anything happens to him. Aouda holds the carpet bag, and Fogg promises 5,000 dollars among the soldiers who save the prisoners.
Fix and Aouda wait all day at the station platform at Ft. Kearney. It begins to snow, and late in the afternoon a locomotive approaches. It was the one that got detached from their train. The engineer and his stoker were not taken by Indians and managed to get the locomotive back to the station and hooked to the train. They want to start at once towards Omaha since they are three hours late. Another train will not come until tomorrow night. Aouda knows that will be too late and feels Fogg has lost the bet, but she refuses to get on the train. Fix is tempted to leave, but he is stubborn and waits also.
Night falls, and it is very cold. Aouda wanders about the station. At dawn, finally they hear gunshots, and the soldiers reappear with Passepartout and the two other passengers. They had fought the Indians and released their prisoners. Fogg rewards the soldiers, and Passepartout regrets once more he has cost his master so much.
Commentary on Chapter 30
The raid on the train tests all the characters. Passepartout rises to heroism, as does Fogg. Aouda shows herself loyal to both master and servant. Even Fix is forced into reflection about Fogg’s real nature. He is confused with conflicting feelings. Fix wants to follow Fogg, but when Fogg makes a request of him, he is unable to refuse “before that calm and frank look” (p.164). Yet when he stays behind, he chides himself for a fool. All during the journey, Fix is tormented by inner conflict, especially when he ends up admiring Fogg and the loyalty of Passepartout. Fix toys with telling Aouda the truth about Fogg being a criminal, but he does not. He actually longs to leave pursuit and catch the train.
Aouda sees that Fogg is willing to risk life and fortune for his servant “from duty” (p. 164). She thinks of Fogg’s “simple and noble generosity” (p. 164) and waits for him in the desolate spot on the plains.
This is an important chapter and a turning point for Fogg’s character. Only one other time was he willing to risk the loss of the bet for another person, when he rescued the princess. In India, however, he had time to spare. He knows if he goes after the train passengers it means he will almost certainly not get to New York on time. The narrator says “he pronounced his own doom” (p. 163) by going after his servant. He knows it is the right thing to do, however, which suddenly makes Fogg human. Despite appearances, he has a heart, whereas Fix, the policeman, does not.
It is significant for Fogg’s character that everyone including Fix is ultimately willing to help him; perhaps because of his money, but also because of his compelling and forceful character. Even his enemies admire him.