Around the World in Eighty Days: Chapter 9

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Summary of Chapter 9: “In which the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean prove propitious to the designs of Phileas Fogg”

 

The Mongolia, being so fast, is likely to get to Bombay on time. On board are a number of British military personnel headed for India. Sumptuous meals and entertainment on board make the time go quickly. Though the Red Sea can be rough and the winds often make the ship toss, the ship cuts through the waves with no problem. Is Fogg anxious? No, he is just as he was at the Reform Club, indifferent to what is passing around him. He eats heartily and plays whist with Reverend Decimus Smith, a tax collector of Goa, and a general of the British army on the way to Benares.

 

Passepartout enjoys the voyage, taking “interest in the scenes” they see (p. 43). He feels that his master will tire of the trip when they reach Bombay. Passepartout makes friends on the voyage with the man he met at Suez, Mr. Fix, who seems surprised to see Passepartout. Fix lies to him, telling him he is an agent of the Peninsular Company that owns the ship, going to India. Fix pumps Passepartout for more information, and they spend time together on the crossing.

 

Passepartout enjoys seeing the ruined walls of Mocha, the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and Aden harbor where they take in coal for fuel. The fuel delay does not agitate Fogg, who remains always calm. Besides, the Mongolia had arrived in Aden early, a gain of 15 hours. Fogg goes ashore to have his passport stamped, and Fix follows him. Fogg returns to the ship and begins his routine again, but Passepartout walks around viewing the mixed population of Aden—Somalis, Jews, Parsees, and Europeans, and the vast cisterns that are the work of English engineers. He is impressed and begins to love travel.

 

The Mongolia now has 168 hours on the Indian Ocean to get to Bombay, but the sea is favorable. Passepartout enjoys the friendship of Fix, and just as Fogg finishes the thirty-third rubber of whist, they come into the harbor of Bombay, with a net gain of two days, as Fogg notes in his journal.

 

Commentary on Chapter Nine

 

So far, Fogg is successful, but with Fix ever on his tail. The irony of Fix becoming Passepartout’s friend while he is spying on Fogg again shows the naiveté of the servant and his habit of attracting more complication for his master. Fogg continues to act as though he has never left his London club, and so it is Passepartout who notices the wonder of how the world is changing. He is an innocent register, though the narrator sometimes uses his observations in a satirical way.

 

Passepartout, for instance, notes the glory of the English empire, which encompasses vast territory in the world of 1872. Fogg in some ways has not had to leave England at all. He continues to play whist with other Englishmen, and every port they pass through bears the mark of England or Europe. Europeans are seen in even the most remote corners of the world, and English is spoken everywhere. Fogg is in danger of being arrested on English soil every place except Japan and America, for every other port is controlled by the English. The English are in China, India, and the middle east. America was once English too.

 

 

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