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Discussion - Les Miserables > Week 9 - through Jean Valjean Book 3

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments So now Valjean and Gavroche join the group behind the barricade. Hail, hail, the gang’s all here. But the population won’t rise with them (for reasons Hugo goes into in what for me was one of his more interesting asides), and we know that this won’t turn out well for our characters. Indeed, despite several acts of considerable courage, the barricade is breached as one by one the members of our band fall. (Javert should also be killed now, but Valjean either can’t or won’t kill him in cold blood.) Gavroche’s death represents the death of all that is good and true in the revolution; not only courage, but compassion and joy.

The band fights on, but they are too outnumbered, and in horrible scenes of an epic battle the soldiers eventually breach the final defense of the wine shop and Enjolas, showing his courage to the last, is killed.

A question: which is more impressive, Javert’s courage or Valjean’s compassion?
But why does Valjean tell Javert his new name and location? I don’t see the point in that, or that it was justified by Valjean’s character.


But Valjean and Marius survive, and go underground to escape. Into the sewers, where as Hugo points out so much human waste is represented (yes, the pun is very much intended!) The journey though the sewers held me spellbound, until the nonbelievable coincidence of the meeting with Thenardiere and the capture (if you can call it such; again, why does Javert feel the need to disclose his identity?) by Javert. But Javert allows Valjean first to take Marius home, then to go to see Cosette. (Is this a changed Javert?)

For the themes section: if I were making a class writing assignment at this point in the book, after this episode in the sewers, I would ask for thoughts on the role of darkness in the book. Hugo seems to me to place many of his most important scenes in deep darkness. But I’m not in the role of assigning, so will just invite thoughts on that.

We have several other things to consider also, if we want to. Is the relationship between Javert and Valjean changing, and if so how and why, and what does it say of their characters? Why does Hugo decide that Gavroche has to die, does his death have any special meaning, and if so what? Why are so many authors so fascinated with the sewers of Paris? Those are just a few; what are some others?

A reminder: next week, Thanksgiving week, there is no assigned reading; it’s time for catch-up if needed, and for perhaps more deep reflection on the book so far as it nears its end.

And perhaps to ask, is there anything in the book that will lead you to be particularly thankful for any part of your life this holiday season?



message 2: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments Modern plumbing?


message 3: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 387 comments I am thankful I did not live in France during the French Revolution.

I have been chomping at the bit to mention the section where I was reminded of John Galt's speech in Rand's Atlas Shrugged. (Of course Rand and Hugo have opposite philosophies of life.) Enjolras makes a speech to the revolutionaries that is not nearly as long as John Galt's but was still quite preachy and I could hardly wait to get to the end.

"Citizens, the nineteenth century is grand, but the twentieth century will be happy. Then there will be nothing more like old history. Men will no longer have to fear, as now, a conquest, an invasion, a usurpation, a rivalry of nations with the armed hand, an interruption of civilization depending on a marriage of kings, a birth in the hereditary tyrannies, a partition of the peoples by a congress, a dismemberment by the downfall of a dynasty, a combat of two religions meeting head to head, like two goats of darkness, upon the bridge of the infinite; they will no longer have to fear famine, speculation, prostitution from distress, misery from lack of work, and the scaffold, and the sword, and the battle, and all the brigandages of chance in the forest of events. We might almost say: there will be no events more. Men will be happy. The human race will fulfill its law as the terrestrial globe fulfills its; harmony will be re-established between the soul and the star...

I wonder what Hugo would think of the events of the 20th and early 21st century such as world wars I and II, Korea, Viet Nam, The Cold War, the famines in Africa, the legal slavery of prostitution in much of the world, the 9-11 attack, the Christian/Muslim cultural clash, the attack on Iraq, the unemployment rate, The stock market crash and the general political climate of our world today.


message 4: by Evalyn (new)

Evalyn (EvieJoy) | 93 comments I think we do see the first glimmer of a change in Javert. He was affected by Valjean's compassion when Valjean releases him and refuses to kill him. Receiving such compassion from a man Javert had hunted relentlessly and without compassion himself would, surely, at the very least strike the smallest flint in the coldest heart.


message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) I’m impressed with Valjean’s compassion. Even though he is jealous of Marius, he made a decision to rescue him for his beloved Cosette. I think that he cannot kill anyone because of his faith. An example is when knocks off the helmet of the first soldier on the roof, and then his replacement. He could have killed both of them but instead he scares them so they leave the roof. Because he can’t kill, he actually puts his life at risk in joining the insurgents, and then he surrenders his National Guard uniform losing his only safe way out. He gives it up freely so another can safely leave. He knows that if Marius survives, he will lose the intimate life that he and Cosette presently share, which is so important to him. He knows that his life with Cosette will change because she and Marius are in love. I think that is why he keeps informing Javert of his identity and home address. He’s older now; maybe he wants to put an end to all this running and hiding. Maybe he wants to change things with Javert. After all, the one person that he has had the longest relationship with is Javert.


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Carol wrote: "I think that is why he keeps informing Javert of his identity and home address. He’s older now; maybe he wants to put an end to all this running and hiding. Maybe he wants to change things with Javert. After all, the one person that he has had the longest relationship with is Javert."

Interesting analysis. That's a nice point about how long he and Javert have been living intertwined lives.

It's also possible that Hugo is implicitly reflecting the Catholic doctrine of confession being good (necessary) for salvation, that to become at peace with himself and God (though God is remarkably absent in these sections, isn't he?) he needs to get right with Javert/the law.

Before actually reading LM, the only thing I knew (or thought I knew) about it was that it was the story of the policeman Javert relentlessly hounding and hounding Valjean. But in the last few sections we have seen a very different dynamic, haven't we? Javert doesn't even recognize Valjean. And he isn't even pursuing Valjean when V voluntarily identifies himself and surrenders. This is a very different relationship from that about which this book is usually described.


message 7: by Grace (last edited Nov 18, 2009 06:58PM) (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Dianna wrote: "I am thankful I did not live in France during the French Revolution.

I have been chomping at the bit to mention the section where I was reminded of John Galt's speech in Rand's Atlas Shrugged. ..."


I read this passage yesterday and was struck by the same thought, Dianna. How naive they were (maybe all revolutionaries are somewhat naive? ).

But at least there are no more starving gamins on the streets of Paris in the 20th century. The modern welfare state took care of that. And the various movements for social justice in the 19th century helped establish that state, so at least that bit from Enjolras's speech did come true in the 20th century. This holds true for the developing world only. Hugo's Paris, with its crumbling tenements, miserable sweatshops and street kids is still alive and well in many parts of the developing world.


message 8: by Zeke (new)

Zeke | 1415 comments Sandybanks wrote: Hugo's Paris, with its crumbling tenements, miserable sweatshops and street kids is still alive and well in many parts of the developing world.

Sadly, it is also true--though in lesser numbers--even in America. Just in the past days the news about children in poverty was shameful. Perhaps this is why a book like LM still has resonance.


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) When JVJ is in the sewers carrying Marius, the darkness he encountered reminded me of when Cosette was sent out alone at night by Madame Thenardier to get water. After re-reading it, I found another similarity that surprised me.

(Cosette BK3, VI)
“The nocturnal tremor of the forest wrapped around her completely . . . The tragic mask of night almost seemed to bend over this child. Jupiter was setting. Startled, the child looked at that great star, which she did not know and which made her afraid. The planet, in fact, was at that moment very near the horizon and was crossing a dense layer of mist that gave it a horrible RED GLOW. The mist, mournfully lurid, magnified the star. It seemed a luminous wound.”

(JVJ BK 3, I --When he sees the lantern of the police in the sewer.)
“All at once he saw his shadow in front of him. It was outlined by an almost imperceptible RED GLOW, which turned the floor at his feet and the arch above his head vaguely crimson and which glided along to his right and his left on the two slimy walls of the corridor.”


I was also surprised and disappointed that Gavroche died. I thought that despite the hardships he had gone through, he had persevered. I saw him as a survivor.



message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Really nice find, Carol. I hope that the terms in the original French are identical, also, and that the translator didn't create this.


message 11: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments I've been listening to "Guns, Germs and Steel" on audio on my commute and was struck this morning by Diamond's argument that the findings of modern archaeology and anthropology invalidate Rousseau's social contract theory, which is partly what gave hope to revolutionaries and reformers of the 18th and 19th centuries, the idea that states and formal govts are formed by common consent of people making rational choices, and that it is therefore within the power of people to revoke that contract or to hold their govt. in breach of it. Diamond's argument seems to be more along the lines that in many circumstances, more organized and centrally controlled societies gradually came to dominate their more egalitarian neighbors, leading to more people living under organized states. Sorry this is so long and abstract, but this section and the previous one just really struck me in terms of what Hugo is showing of human societies. In 2007 my husband's home country, Kenya, descended briefly, but terrifyingly, into chaotic but localized violence. And the end of it was somewhat similar to that described by Hugo,people with property and life arrangements etc. at stake, just backed down and said,"Any govt. is better than anarchy. Let the bastards go on with business as usual." Don't know if this post makes any sense, but LM is certainly giving me lots to think about.


message 12: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Andrea wrote: "Sorry this is so long and abstract, but this section and the previous one just really struck me in terms of what Hugo is showing of human societies."

No apology at all, please! Very interesting and relevant information, particularly since that's not a book I had on my radar, let alone my TBR list.

I'm still sorting out Hugo's political views, but to me Hugo they seems less accurate in his understandng of the formation of governments than Rousseau.

One prof told me many, many years ago, all wars and all revolutions are at heart economic. That may be a bit cynical, but she had a point. I'm not sure that the economic situation on France was bad enough in the 30s to support another revolution, as Hugo hoped.


message 13: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2004 comments Andrea wrote: "I've been listening to "Guns, Germs and Steel" on audio on my commute and was struck this morning by Diamond's argument that the findings of modern archaeology and anthropology invalidate Rousseau'..."

Very good, Andrea. It's dream, not reality.


message 14: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 179 comments Andrea wrote: "I've been listening to "Guns, Germs and Steel" on audio on my commute and was struck this morning by Diamond's argument that the findings of modern archaeology and anthropology invalidate Rousseau'..."

----------------------

I love when people make connections to other books!
I have Guns, Germs and Steel on my TBR shelf.

Interesting post. Thanks.




message 15: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 5300 comments Just popping in with my two cents worth. I did not like Guns, Germs and Steel. I recently took a course on "First cities" at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chciago. The professor was the director of the Institute. I could not resist asking him what he thought of the book. He did not like it either. No one knows for sure how the first cities evolved. There are many theories. But his idea resonated with me. His hunch is that people came together to mediate disputes. He's worked for some time in Syria and has noticed how the local people come to a central location and discuss their disputes with their leaders. I thought this was a terrific insight. Even on the net, we need a moderator.
Conflicts can arise even in cyber-land, where absolutely nothing is at stake.;-)




message 16: by Grace (last edited Nov 19, 2009 08:09PM) (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Fascinating thought, Andrea. I've read Guns,Germs and Steel too but never made the connection to Hugo's conception of the social contract. I have no idea whose theory is more historically correct, Rousseau's or Diamond's, but I find the book to be interesting.

You mentioned about what happened in Kenya, and that is similar to what had happened in my country, Indonesia, after the chaos of the 1960's. After a brutal repression, most people just accepted having to live under a military dictatorship, because the alternative was even worse. And economically, it worked for a while until the Asian financial crash in the late 1990's. Then we had our version of the barricades and now we have a democratic government. I'm not sure how to analyze that; we've had both governments that ruled by coercion and by social contract, and both had their positive and negative sides.

I apologize if this is irrelevant to this discussion, but I just couldn't resist making the comparison.





message 17: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Sandybanks wrote: "I apologize if this is irrelevant to this discussion, but I just couldn't resist making the comparison."

Totally relevant. After all, what Hugo is talking about, in part, is when a country is or is not ready for revolution.

Perfectly acceptable to bring up a contemporary example as long as we don't get into an off-topic current political debate, which in this case we certainly won't.




message 18: by Grace (last edited Nov 19, 2009 08:49PM) (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Everyman wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: "I apologize if this is irrelevant to this discussion, but I just couldn't resist making the comparison."

Totally relevant. After all, what Hugo is talking about, in part, is wh..."


The part which we are currently reading (about revolution and its causes) is very interesting to me as a reflection on what I have personally experienced in my country. The constant swing between dictatorships (military or royalist) and unruly democratic governments at this period of French history is similar to our experience (and perhaps also to the situations in other developing countries as well).

I agree that all revolutions are at heart economic. At least in my experience.


message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments Patrice wrote: "Just popping in with my two cents worth. I did not like Guns, Germs and Steel. I recently took a course on "First cities" at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chciago. The professor wa..."Patrice, I don't like quite a bit of the book myself. Diamond's view privileges economic success above all else, which does not seem reasonable to me. People can make choices about lifestyle that are not based on economic considerations. (Connection to Sandybanks' comment too here). But way back when I was a freshman in college, taking the first Western Civ. class, I got quite exasperated with Rousseau myself, as obviously people were never in the kind of "state of nature" that he describes. Everybody ever born already had parents, grandparents, extended family etc. that form some kind of "political" environment.




message 20: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 5300 comments I agree about Rousseau. He was just imagining to serve a political purpose.

I thought Diamond was doing the same thing only calling it science.





message 21: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2004 comments Patrice wrote: "I agree about Rousseau. He was just imagining to serve a political purpose.

I thought Diamond was doing the same thing only calling it science. "


It would be fun to read Rousseau together here sometime. I find him very comical, especially when he writes about the education of children.


message 22: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 5300 comments I would love to read Emile sometime. If I remember correctly he had a lot of children, none of which he actually raised. He was quite a guy. But part of me loves what he had to say. It's very romantic and parts of it very true, I think.


message 23: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments Rousseau on children is quite a hoot. Basically, he had lots of ideas about how they should be raised, but, indeed, not by him. There is actually mention in at least one place in TM of places where Rousseau abandoned his children. Wish I could have written them down.

To get back to Everyman's comment about darkness, I actually had written down a quote that pertains to that. Don't have the page number, but it's while JVJ is in the sewer.
"The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it."

Darkness made everything more difficult to see and identify, but also forced characters to observe very closely and try to interpret the pieces of information they were able to get.


message 24: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2004 comments Andrea wrote:
To get back to Everyman's comment about darkness, I actually had written down a quote that pertains to that. Don't have the page number, but it's while JVJ is in the sewer.
"The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it."

Darkness made everything more difficult to see and identify, but also forced characters to observe very closely and try to interpret the pieces of information they were able to get.


Wonderful, Andrea!




message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Andrea wrote: "To get back to Everyman's comment about darkness, I actually had written down a quote that pertains to that. Don't have the page number, but it's while JVJ is in the sewer.
"The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it."


Beautiful! Very nice find. I love it when people bring forth these little gems, almost throw-aways, that Hugo scatters throughout the book.




message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Laurele wrote: "It would be fun to read Rousseau together here sometime. I find him very comical, especially when he writes about the education of children."

He would indeed be fun to read, but I think you may have to do a sales job to get the group to vote for him!




message 27: by Grace (last edited Nov 21, 2009 07:54PM) (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments I like how Hugo describes the barricade as 'uproar petrified'. I've been looking at the photos of (presumably later) barricades on the site that Laurele had given the link to and try to imagine how they were built.

This part of the story with the fighting at the barricades, JVJ's escape through the sewers, and what happened to Javert is very gripping. That is until, ahem, an improbable coincidence where Thernadier just happens to be there when JVJ emerges from the sewers. But I'm not going to dwell on it as Hugo's morality play is heading towards its conclusion. Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Javert, 'purchases' his soul, just as Myriel had done for him so long ago.


message 28: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2004 comments Sandybanks wrote: Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Javert, 'purchases' his soul, just as Myriel had done for him so long ago. Tragically, the enormity of Javert's sins is just too great on his conscience and he had to take his own life in atonement.

Very good, Sandybanks. Javert's fatal flaw: he did not believe in God; the law was his only god.


message 29: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine Laurele wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Javert, 'purchases' his soul, just as ..."

We hadn't got to that part about Javert yet.




message 30: by Grace (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Peregrine wrote: "Laurele wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Javert, 'purchases' hi..."

Oh, I'm sorry. I must have read past the limit for this week's reading. The story is just too gripping that I had to read on (I read through the end last night). I've amended my earlier post to avoid the spoiler.


message 31: by Grace (last edited Nov 21, 2009 08:15PM) (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Laurele wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Javert, 'purchases' his soul, just as ..."

My reading is a bit different; I thought that Javert's fatal flaw is his unwillingness to think critically. For the first time in his life, due to JVJ's act of mercy on him, he is forced to examine his conscience. He is ultimately unable to reconcile this newly-awakened conscience with his blind adherence to the draconian man-made law that he had devoted his life to.

I find it interesting that all of the characters that are most rigid and dogmatic, like Javert and M. Gillenormand, are described as non-readers, or if they do read at all, only read books that reinforce their existing mindset. Hugo also attributes Mme. Thernadier's bad character to her reading of worthless novels. M. Mabeuf and JVJ are both avid readers of different kinds of books.


message 32: by Peregrine (last edited Nov 21, 2009 08:56PM) (new)

Peregrine Sandybanks wrote: "Peregrine wrote: "Laurele wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Jave..."

It surely is gripping! Thanks :-)




message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Peregrine wrote: "
It surely is gripping!"


Definitely. It was dragging a bit for me in the middle weeks, but is definitely picking up steam and excitement.




message 34: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2004 comments Sandybanks wrote: I find it interesting that all of the characters that are most rigid and dogmatic, like Javert and M. Gillenormand, are described as non-readers, or if they do read at all, only read books that reinforce their existing mindset. Hugo also attributes Mme. Thernadier's bad character to her reading of worthless novels. M. Mabeuf and JVJ are both avid readers of different kinds of books.

Great point, Sandybanks.




message 35: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2004 comments Everyman wrote: "Peregrine wrote: "
It surely is gripping!"

Definitely. It was dragging a bit for me in the middle weeks, but is definitely picking up steam and excitement.

"


It got more and more exciting for me as we near the end. And all the strings he's tying together!


message 36: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments Sandybanks wrote: "Peregrine wrote: "Laurele wrote: "Sandybanks wrote: Here JVJ takes the role of Bishop Myriel, a saintly man who is willing to lay down his life for his friends, and through his act of mercy on Jave..."
It seems that different translations might end the books at different points? That doesn't seem right, but my book seemed to end at the same point as Sandybanks.



message 37: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Can we please not discuss the end of the book until the schedule has taken us there?

Thanks.



message 38: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 28 comments Last week's reading picked up the plot pace to such a degree that I read through until the end of the book. I don't know where in the plot this week's reading takes us so I have been afraid of posting spoilers. Perhaps we can discuss Hugo's pacing of the novel without revealing any spoilers.

In retrospect, the plot quickens and slows at some unexpected places. Sometimes significant plot events are described in great detail and at other times they are treated as almost a footnote – compare JVJ’s journey to turn himself in at the Champmathieu trial with his escape from the ship. At times we are treated to a breakneck page-turner and at other times we are treated to a detailed historical background essay.

I have read other novels that quicken and slow down, but Hugo makes these pacing changes quite extreme. Is this a feature of literature from this time period? Do others think it enhances or detracts?


message 39: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job." --Victor Hugo

http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outl...


Not a big surprise that Hugo would save The Book of Job which deals with the suffering of innocent people.

In regards to the role of darkness in LM, my interpretation is that it represents the world, evil and life without faith. Their world is deplorable Paris; evil makes me think of Thenardier; and JVJ’s life is dark before he meets the bishop and is transformed by faith.

(BK2, CH7) “Jean Valjean was in the dark, suffering in the dark, hating in the dark. He lived constantly in darkness, groping blindly, like a dreamer.”




message 40: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine Carol wrote: "Jean Valjean was in the dark, suffering in the dark, hating in the dark. He lived constantly in darkness, groping blindly, like a dreamer."

The implication there is that Valjean is sighted, and that the darkness is outside him, affecting him but not coming from him. " . . . like a dreamer" is a very hope-filled way of describing someone living in darkness.


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Dawn wrote: "I have read other novels that quicken and slow down, but Hugo makes these pacing changes quite extreme. Is this a feature of literature from this time period? Do others think it enhances or detracts?"

That's a good point. To some extent almost all novels do this (the exception being modern thrillers), but Hugo seems to do it to a greater than average extent.




message 42: by Grace (new)

Grace Tjan | 381 comments Everyman wrote: "Dawn wrote: "I have read other novels that quicken and slow down, but Hugo makes these pacing changes quite extreme. Is this a feature of literature from this time period? Do others think it enhanc..."

I couldn't agree more. During the action in the barricades, Hugo takes us to the Luxembourg Garden with Gavroche's brothers, where he waxes poetic about flowers for several long pages. Perhaps it is meant to be some kind of contrast to the violent uprising, but I just couldn't wait to get back to the action! And the pace just picks up so rapidly after the sewer escape that we just have to read on to the finish.


message 43: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments Everyman wrote: "Can we please not discuss the end of the book until the schedule has taken us there?

Thanks.Oh, I'm sorry. I meant the end of the book, "St. Denis," not the end of the novel.
"





message 44: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 113 comments About the pacing, I feel sometimes, as in the scene in the gardens, that Hugo is deliberately playing with my anticipation. And yet, those people he describes in that section, who are so entranced by flowers and light that they ignore human suffering, are part of what is happening to the two little boys. They are homeless and hungry, but the man who brings his son to the gardens, is only interested in showing his son the flowers and the swans. That part where he throws the bread to the swans was really heartbreaking.


message 45: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Andrea wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Can we please not discuss the end of the book until the schedule has taken us there?

Thanks.Oh, I'm sorry. I meant the end of the book, "St. Denis," not the end of the novel.
..."


Okay. Sorry for misunderstanding.




message 46: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Andrea wrote: "About the pacing, I feel sometimes, as in the scene in the gardens, that Hugo is deliberately playing with my anticipation. And yet, those people he describes in that section, who are so entranced..."

I agree with you. It's a beautiful way of pointing out without sermonizing the disparity between those who go hungry and those who live with plenty and are simply unaware of those who go hungry.

I didn't get the sense that in throwing the bread to the swans he was in any way aware that it would have been so important to hungry children. It wasn't cruelty, it was just not noticing.

And yet, doesn't that go on even today, with those (I do not exclude myself) living comfortable lives and only vaguely aware how many people would consider living on our trash to be virtual luxury.

But I do like Hugo being subtle about this sermon, and appreciate your highlighting it.




message 47: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) It seems Hugo makes some interesting contrasts with regards to the insurgents.

After Gavroche died he was placed “on the same table as Mabeuf, and they stretched the black shawl over the two bodies. It was large enough for the old man and the child.”

Enjolras, an idealist, and Grantaire, a cynic, proudly die together but Hugo paints an interesting portrait of each man. “Enjolras, pierced by eight bullets, remained backed up against the wall as if the bullets had nailed him there. Except that his head was tilted. Grantaire, struck down, collapsed at his feet.” (Does the image of a dead, young man, nailed upright with his head titled down make you think of anyone?)

What is Hugo saying about the insurgents?



message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6160 comments Carol wrote: "(Does the image of a dead, young man, nailed upright with his head titled down make you think of anyone?)

What is Hugo saying about the insurgents? "


Indeed it does. Good find.

Especially interesting in view of Hugo's apparent view of religion.




message 49: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Sanderson | 15 comments I'm a little behind the rest of the group, but have clocked over one thousand pages and the finish is in sight. Not that I'm particularly looking forward to finishing this book as I've enjoyed it so much.

What struck me as strange is JVJ's compulsion to save Marius given the fact we are told on a couple of occassions that JVJ hates Marius. He is obviously conflicted about it. I guess his motivations will all be explained soon.





message 50: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) Stephen wrote: "I'm a little behind the rest of the group, but have clocked over one thousand pages and the finish is in sight. Not that I'm particularly looking forward to finishing this book as I've enjoyed it ..."

I believe the reason JVJ rescues Marius is because he puts Cosette's interests before his own. Through the bishop's unselfish love, JVJ was transformed. Because of JVJ's love for Cosette, he saves Marius' life. It reveals his "maturity" in love -- early on, his focus was on "self" and now, his focus is on others.



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