Summary of Chapter Five: “In which a new species of funds, unknown to the moneyed men, appears on ‘Change”
The news of the bet begins to spread in the Reform Club, in London, and in the papers all over England. Some cheer Fogg, but the majority denounces his quest. It seems impossible, and they think he may be insane.
Geography and travel, however, being a passion with the English, people begin to be interested in the adventure and the lands he will pass through. The Royal Geographical Society shows that the obstacles facing the travelers are almost insurmountable, since he proposes to cross India in three days by rail, and the United States in seven days, when those lands are wild and the weather extreme. If he misses even one connection, he is lost.
Betting is also a passion with the English, and so wagers are made on Fogg as if he is a racehorse. Bonds are issued, and the adventure is traded on the stock exchange. After a while, people lose interest and won’t buy the bonds. Only Lord Abermarle is cheering Fogg’s trip and bets 5,000 pounds on him. The odds are now 200 to 1 that he will lose.
An unfortunate incident, however, makes everyone lose faith in Fogg. A police detective called Fix wires Scotland Yard that he is on the trail of Fogg because he fits the description of the bank robber. He asks for an arrest warrant to be sent to Bombay. Now people believe that Fogg invented the trip to cover his tracks and make his getaway with the money.
Commentary on Chapter Five
Verne has fun with the English character in his remarks about their love of gambling, and their armchair love of adventure, as in the case of the elderly Lord Abermarle. The main effect of this chapter, however, is that it creates tension by raising the stakes of the journey.
First, Fogg becomes an underdog with the whole nation betting against his success. Secondly, he is suspected of being a criminal using the trip as a cover to abscond with the money from the Bank of England robbery and travel to a safe place. With detectives following him, he will certainly be stopped or delayed. At this point the reader does not know whether or not he is the robber, because Fogg is mysterious; no one knows how he gets his money. However, two things are in his favor. His servant admires him and will become devoted to Fogg and his quest, and secondly, we see Fogg has a kindly and just nature, as he gives money to people who need it. We have been told he doesn’t care about winning or money. He is motivated by the thrill of an idea. He is risking his whole life on something too abstract for other people to understand. He tests the limits of human endeavor.
The reader tends to believe in Fogg’s innocence the more circumstances are against him. His character has been set up as gentlemanly and disinterested. He is eccentric but principled. The pursuit of him as a criminal is an additional handicap and adds to the suspense and interest of the story.
A new important character is introduced: Detective Fix. Fix’s name is a clue to his nature. He is fixated on catching and arresting Fogg. He wants Fogg to be the robber, because he wants the glory of catching him and getting the reward. He will be a major antagonist to Phileas Fogg.