Free Study Guide for Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: "Les Mis"|
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LES MISERABLES: FREE BOOK REVIEW NOTES
Several more factions of Paris head for the barricades. Little Gavroche,
who has found himself a hammerless pistol, the student companions of Marius,
M. Mabeuf and an unnamed youth in pantaloons congregate along the streets.
The youth in pantaloons is Eponine.
We receive a description of the wine shop, which will become part of the barricade for the uprising. Grantaire, Bossuet and Joly spend most of the day drinking wine and eating oysters. A child messenger from little Gavroche shows up at one point to deliver word from Enjolras. The message is simple “A-B-C,” which signifies Lamarque’s funeral to Bossuet. A few hours later, the principle figures in the uprising pass and at a shout from Bossuet, Enjolras agrees to set up his barricade at the wine shop.
The shopkeeper, Mother Hucheloup is worried and frightened. Courfeyrac consoles her with reminders of the injustices she has endured at the hands of the government. Toward evening, about 50 laborers join the group, bringing additional weapons and some food and drink. They build a roaring fire in the fire place and begin melting all the pewter dishes and wine vessels to make bullets.
The barricade is built of paving stones torn up from the streets, timbers ripped from nearby houses, a couple of overturned carriages, a glass door, some wine casks, and all topped with a red flag fastened to a pole. While waiting for the military response to their revolt, several former students seek each other out and pass the time by singing love songs.
In the meantime, Gavroche has become suspicious of an unnamed stranger who had asked earlier in the day if he could “join” the procession. Enjolras accepted him with a shrug and a comment that “the streets are free to all.” Gavroche, however, believes he is a spy. Several students line up to overtake the man as Enjolras questions his identity-soon to discover that the man is Javert, Inspector of police. They disarm him and tie him to a post. Then Enjolras sends Gavroche into the street to find out if the government has begun to move.
In the tense moments of waiting, another, more tragic event, takes place
that reveals the presence of a different kind of spy. A man who calls
himself Le Cabuc suggests using a nearby house where they can fire from
the windows and prevent anyone from entering the street. The house is
dark and closed up, but the insistent banging brings the face of a citizen
at an upstairs window. When the citizen says he will not open the house,
Cabuc fires and kills him. Enjolras descends on Cabuc in a fury and summarily
executes him. Later they find a police card on him. Several individuals
believe that Cabuc is actually Claquesous, the gangster who had once helped
to terrorize Paris.
The true nobility of Enjolras is seen at the end of this section. He
justifies his action in condemning and executing Cabuc as necessary because
“the insurrection must have its discipline.” He has no intention of allowing
his people to randomly shoot innocent civilians or to make a mockery of
the intent of the revolt. Enjolras expounds eloquently on his own philosophy,
which is that the law of progress will demand the disappearance of monsters
and the growth of Fraternity. He makes an apocalyptic prediction that
echoes some of the ideas of William Blake. “Satan,” he says, “will be
no more, so Michael [the archangel] shall be radiant, the human race shall
love. It will come...that day when all shall be concord, harmony, light,
joy, and life. It will come, and it is that it may come that we are going
to die.” This was the hope of the Revolution of the 1790's. That golden
day did not arrive then, nor will it be brought about by the actions of
these radical but sincere young men.
Having found Cosette’s home abandoned, Marius leaves the little garden.
He has told Cosette that he will die without her, and he is determined
to find a way to do just that. He wanders through the streets of Paris
getting through the throngs of murmuring people, avoiding the militia,
gradually making his way to the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie
where the rest of his friends have gathered. There he stops, remembering
his father and wavering momentarily, knowing that his father would have
been on a different side. Nevertheless, he is able to rationalize that
the insurrection is for the common people, for the life blood of France
and soon joins the group inside the barricade.
Eponine again plays an influential part in Marius’ actions. When searching
for sign of Cosette he hears a voice saying “your friends are waiting
for you in the barricade of the Rue de la Chanvrerie.” He thinks he recognizes
the voice of Eponine, but when he searches in the trees for the source,
he sees only a young man who is running off. It is, of course, Eponine,
and she carries a letter from Cosette, which she will give him at the
moment of her own death. Her actions will bring Marius to the point of
death but will also bring him and Valjean together and will ultimately
bring about his reconciliation with his grandfather.
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Ruff, Dr. Karen S. C., D. A.. "TheBestNotes on Les Miserables".
. 09 May 2017