Summary of Chapter Eight: “In which Passepartout talks rather more, perhaps, than is prudent”
Fix approaches Passepartout on the quay where the servant is looking around. Fix strikes up a conversation with Passepartout who explains they are traveling so fast, he feels he is in a dream. He did not get to see Paris, and now he is in Egypt, and he has not seen it either. Fix gets Passepartout to talk as they go to find some clothes for him to buy. Passepartout takes out his watch to coordinate the time. He doesn’t want to miss the boat. He refuses to change his watch from London time to the time in Suez, which is two hours later.
Fix admits they left London hastily, and that they carry a large sum of money in new banknotes. He explains they are going around the world in 80 days on a wager, but that he doesn’t believe that is the real reason. He also admits he just met his master. This is enough to lead Fix to believe he is right about Fogg being the criminal.
The detective rushes off to the Consul to explain what he has found out. The Consul agrees it is all suspicious but wonders why Fogg wanted his passport validated if he is the thief. Fix sends a dispatch to London to have the arrest warrant waiting in Bombay and determines to get on the boat to follow Fogg and Passepartout.
Commentary on Chapter Eight
Although Passepartout is telling the most damaging evidence to Fix about his master and their journey, he can only worry about the gas he left burning in his room, for the cost of it will be more than he earns. This shows the distance between man and master at this point. Fogg does not communicate much about himself, and Passepartout does not understand why they need to rush around without looking at anything. He reveals his simple nature in not thinking the worst of Fogg, but also in not being discrete. The first duty of a servant is to keep quiet about his master’s business.
Passepartout is the good-hearted servant and comic relief in the story. He bumbles his way through the journey complicating things, sometimes producing harm, sometimes being heroic. He is spontaneous and emotional in his responses, while Fogg is the other extreme, full of calculation. It is never clear why they end up as a team, but the journey is their means of bonding.
Another important point is revealed when Passepartout will not change his watch from London time as they travel through different time zones. In his simple way, he does not believe that time could be different in different places. Fix tells him if he doesn’t change his watch, it will not agree with the sun. Passepartout objects, calling his watch “a perfect chronometer” (p. 39) because it came from his great-grandfather. He and Fogg both venerate clocks but for different reasons. Passepartout has an emotional attachment to his watch but doesn’t gain any intellectual information from it as Fogg does. He is not as agile with abstract concepts, such as distance, time, and location. He feels he is in a dream because he is going so fast and cannot get his bearings. This overlooking of how time is changing as they go around the world will be a main point later in the story and will determine whether or not Fogg wins the bet.