Summary of Chapter Eighteen: “In which Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and Fix go each about his business”
The weather turns very bad, and the steamer slows down; she will get to Hong Kong twenty hours late. Fogg remains tranquil while Passepartout is furious, and Fix delighted. Passepartout stations himself by the barometer and shakes it hoping it will change. When the weather finally becomes favorable, Passepartout clears up, but they are now 24 hours late, and the steamer will be missed.
As the pilot steers the Rangoon into the port of Hong Kong, Fogg asks him if the steamer for Yokohama has left yet, and the pilot says not until the next day. Fogg does not act surprised. The Carnatic is being repaired and was delayed, but Fogg is still off his schedule by a day.
Fogg has time before the boat leaves to find Aouda’s relative and leave her with him. He asks his servant to protect the lady while he goes in search of the relative. Going to the Hong Kong Exchange, he hears that the relative left for China two years before and then went to Holland to retire. Fogg proposes to take Aouda with him to Europe, and she is pleased.
Commentary on Chapter Eighteen
Much is made of Fogg’s steadiness and Passepartout’s emotional ups and downs. The servant is like the changing weather, while Fogg is like the reliable steamer that keeps plowing through the heavy seas. This determination perhaps is part of the calculation he makes to get to his goal. The narrator mentions that Fogg acts as though the storm “had been foreseen” (p. 92), and that when the pilot tells him the Carnatic is still in port, Fogg “descends mathematically” (p. 93) to the saloon, as though justified in his conclusions.
Yet the narrator calls it “Chance” (p. 94) that favored Fogg, for if the Carnatic had not laid over for repairs, they would have had to wait a week for the next steamer to Yokohama. On the other hand, the steamer from Yokohama to San Francisco has to wait for the Carnatic, and the lost time can be made up on the Pacific crossing. Fogg knows that small ups and downs are not the measure of his progress. He has a different metric than his servant, who anxiously watches the barometer. Fogg’s lofty mathematical mind has “foreseen” the perturbations and is above everyone else’s opinions. Verne implies that he is both morally and intellectually a genius compared to those around him. They are unable to understand his mind. Fix is like an ant who follows him around but has not the imagination to play Fogg’s game.
Fogg knows that small ups and downs are not the measure of his progress. He has a different metric than his servant, who anxiously watches the barometer. Fogg’s lofty mathematical mind has “foreseen” the perturbations and is above everyone else’s opinions.