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In Around the World in Eighty Days, what is the answer to this question? Mr. Francis...
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Mr. Francis decided to rescue the widow.
Sir Francis Cromarty, a corpsman, was traveling across India by elephant with Phileas Fogg and Passepartout when they came upon an elaborate funeral procession deep in the "savage territory...in Bundelcund". The procession was led by Brahmin priests, who were surrounded by "men, women, and children, who sang a kind of lugubrious psalm". Behind them was a cart carrying "a hideous statue with four arms, the body colored a dull red, with haggard eyes, dishevelled hair, protruding tongue, and lips tinted with betel...it stood upright upon the figure of a prostrate and headless giant". The statue was a representation of "Kali, the goddess of love and death".
Following the statue, some Brahmins, "clad in all the sumptuousness of Oriental apparel", were leading a woman
"who faltered at every step". The woman was young, and as fair as a European...her head and neck, shoulders, ears, arms, hands, and toes, were loaded down with jewels and gold and gems...with bracelets, earrings, and rings, while a tunic bordered with gold, and covered with a light muslin robe, betrayed the outline of her form".
At the end of the procession was a palanquin on which the corpse of an old man was borne. The woman was the widow of the deceased, a suttee, or human sacrifice. She would be burned alive tomorrow, "at the light of day".
Sir Francis explained to the others that the barbaric practice of human sacrifice still existed unchecked in the "savage" areas of India, and that quite often the victim offered herself up voluntarily rather than endure the abuse directed upon one who had to continue in life as a widow. The group's guide, however, at this point revealed that in this case, the sacrifice was not a voluntary one. The victim had tried many times to escape her fate, but in the end the influence of the family had prevailed, and, forcibly intoxicated, she was being taken against her will to her death. It was actually Phileas Fogg who first suggested, "suppose we save this woman", but he immediately found in Sir Francis "an enthusiastic ally" (Chapters 12-13).
Posted by dymatsuoka on May 28, 2009 at 1:01 AM (Answer #1)
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