The railway between New York and San Francisco is described along with the politics of it. The long artery, which has to be traversed in seven days to reach New York, is outlined. Then the train carriages are interestingly detailed.
Passepartout and Fix are now distanced from each other. Passepartout is reserved and suspicious of Fix’s trickery. For some time, the train journey is absolutely smooth and nothing extraordinary happens. The landscape that they are passing through is outlined. The travelers observe nature around them. There are vast prairies, mountains standing out on the horizon, and creeks with their seething, foaming waters. At three o’clock in the afternoon, a herd of ten or twelve thousand head of buffalo block the way. The train had to be stopped till the animals move out of the way. Passepartout was furious at the delay and wanted the engine driver to go at full speed, through these obstructing beasts. But the engine driver was sensible in not taking such a drastic step.
The march of the bisons lasted three hours; after which the train started and then entered the territory of Utah, the curious land of Great Salt Lake and the Mormons.
In this Chapter, a part of the journey on the Pacific Express is covered. Verne does have a very wide bank of knowledge and here we see how he describes the American railway system. He includes the role of history in his narrative. We learn that Fogg will have to travel seven days, before reaching New York. Unlike the other chapters, in this chapter ordinary actions are described such as passengers resting at bedtime. In the immediately preceding chapters, there was much happening and life seemed extraordinary. In this chapter, we return partly to the every day, routine life. The train moves through vivid scenery, which all the passengers watch animatedly.
The only extraordinary incident in this chapter is the presence of a large number of bisons that obstruct the train’s journey. They are on the tracks and are so many that the train has to be stopped. This was a genuine problem for many a train in America. We see how impatient Passepartout can be. He is comical in most of his emotions and expressions. He curses the animals and wants the train driver to run over them. On the other hand Fogg is as calm as always and does not betray any impatience in the frustrating situation. The two characters-the master and the valet have absolutely opposing mindsets.
The train driver is rational and does a wise thing in not bulldozing his way through the beasts. The train does move on finally and the passengers are once more on their way to New York.
The train continues on its path. Passepartout steps down at a station, when he sees an interesting man-tall, very dark, who looked like a parson. This man goes from one part of the train to another and announces that he will give a lecture on Mormonism in car No. 117. Thirty people are drawn by the attraction of a lecture, including Passepartout. The Mormon missionary-Elder William Hitch turns out to be a fanatic and one by one, people start leaving the lecture room. Passepartout is the last to escape the tedious preaching. During the lecture, the train had made rapid progress and the landscape is outlined. The train stops at Ogden for a few hours and so the travelers alight. The town is described through the visiting travelers’ eye and the voyagers do not feel sorry about leaving this City of Saints. Just as the train starts, a breathless Mormon man runs up and he is late because of a domestic fight. Passepartout asks him how many wives he has and they learn that he has only one wife unlike other Mormons.
A major part of this chapter is devoted to Mormonism-the theory, its culture, a Mormon missionary and his fanaticism as well as a Mormon town. Passepartout goes to attend the Mormon missionary’s lecture out of curiosity but finds it very boring, as the others do too. Verne does have a large landscape in the background of his story and apart from various places various religions are described too-Mormonism is one such practice. But we can feel that the author is not too appreciative of this way of life.
Ogden is another American City that we are led through. We are also told that the travelers are not sorry to leave it. This city of Saints is not exactly a very colorful place and Mormons on the whole are a simple lot.
This is one chapter in which the focus is not on the hero and his experiences, but on his valet, Passepartout’s experiences. Apart from that, the emphasis is also on Mormonism and the chapter ends also with a Mormon rushing into the train. He is late because of a domestic fight. Verne seems to underline at the end that one wife is more than enough to make a man go crazy, he doesn’t need to have two-three to make him mad. It does look like a chauvinistic viewpoint to present.
Staff, TheBestNotes. "TheBestNotes on Around the World in Eighty Days".
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