Free Study Guide for Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: "Les Mis"|
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LES MISERABLES: DOWNLOADABLE BOOK SUMMARY
During the moments when Marius had been working with the powder keg, he had seen, through the smoke and mist, a musket pointed directly at him. Just as it fired a hand had reached up and covered the muzzle. The ball went through the hand and through the body of its owner-the mysterious young man in velvet pantaloons who had followed the insurgents throughout the day. Marius now discovers that the young “man” is Eponine and that she took the muzzle shot for him. Before she dies, she reveals that Gavroche is her brother and that she has a letter, which she originally had not intended to give to Marius. Since she was in love with him herself, her original intention was to lure Marius to the barricades where she believed they both would die.
The revelation of the identity of the children reminds Marius of his
presumed obligation to Thenardier. After Eponine is dead, he reads the
letter from Cosette; it tells of her father’s plans to move to a temporary
location and then to England. Marius writes a return letter, telling her
where he is and giving instructions for the delivery of his body after
he is dead. Then, in an attempt to get Gavroche out of danger, Marius
asks him to deliver the letter.
Marius does not fight in the same way as the other insurgents. He fights to protect his friends and shoots only when necessary. His threat to blow up the barricade is sincere even though it would kill himself as well. In fact, his intent is to find a way to keep his promise to Cosette and die since he has lost her.
Eponine’s identity and actions are revealed to Marius. Upon hearing her brother’s voice, she says that he must not see her, as he will scold her. We are told that she was the one who had tossed the paper saying “remove” for Valjean and had also changed clothes with a young lad who thought it a joke to dress as a girl; in this disguise she had accepted the letter from Cosette and had called to Marius, telling him that his friends were waiting for him. She takes responsibility for all, admitting that she wanted him to die, but that she wanted to die before him and had therefore thrown herself in front of the musket that had been aimed at him. She asks only one thing of him-that he kiss her on the forehead after she is dead. Marius does this and then takes the letter into the wine shop to read it. With her dying breath, Eponine confesses that she loved him, but, although Marius pities her, his thoughts are only for Cosette and his heart throbs as he looks forward to an opportunity to read the letter.
Cosette’s letter only adds to Marius’ desperation. She tells him that
her father is taking her to England; since his own grandfather will not
consent to marriage, nothing is changed. Marius decides to inform Cosette
of his death and write her a farewell message.
Valjean moves with Cosette and Toussaint into the Rue De L’Homme Arme no. 7. One of the few belongings Cosette takes with her is her blotter, which she drops on a sideboard in front of a mirror. Valjean inadvertently sees the reflection of Cosette’s blotter-it contains the imprint of her letter to Marius.
In despair over the fact that Cosette is in love with some one, and that he is in eminent danger of losing her, Valjean goes outside and sits on a block near the house. He is there when Gavroche appears with the letter from Marius. Gavroche asks for the address and Valjean realizes that he must be attempting a delivery. Valjean claims to be expecting the letter and takes it from Gavroche who then tells him that the sender is in the barricade at the Rue De La Chanvrerie.
Valjean reads the letter, discovering that it is from Marius. It implies
that by the time Cosette gets it, Marius will be dead. Valjean rejoices,
believing that the competition for Cosette’s love will soon be eliminated.
Then, without knowing why he does so, Valjean puts on his old guard uniform
and heads for the barricade himself.
Valjean and Marius go to the barricade for the same reasons. Both feel that
they have lost Cosette and have nothing left to live for. Valjean believes
he has lost her love to another. He bitterly hates Marius for taking her
love away from him, and yet as if driven by his own albatross, he goes
to the barricade to watch over Marius although it is not clear that he
knows exactly what he hopes to do.
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Ruff, Dr. Karen S. C., D. A.. "TheBestNotes on Les Miserables".
. 09 May 2017