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Jean Valjean and Fantine

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Mike I saw a review of LM on the Web recently that brought up the following point:

It stated that JV's behavior with regard to Fantine was not realistic. Specifically, it said that he knew that she was very sick and wanted to have her child again. So, why would he go admit that he was the real Jean Valjean while she was in such a precarious situation? It seems more believable that, even if he felt he should confess, he would have waited until Cosette was brought to Fantine and their situation was resolved as much as possible. IOW, Fantine would have been his priority. Afterward, he could still have confessed and the falsely accused man would have been set free. I mean, which is worse--having Fantine die, or having an innocent man go to prison for a month or two?

I think I agree with this assessment. Any other opinions?


Carina Fantine would have died regardless of what actions Valjean took. The person being mistaken as Valjean would have been incorrectly placed into horrible living conditions and would have began enforced labour pretty much from the moment he was charged as guilty.

Having any innocent person condemned to jail is wrong, and it is even worse when the living conditions are so poor. He made the correct decision in my opinion.


Margaret I don't find it unrealistic. People might disagree that he did the right thing, but it's perfectly plausible that he would do it.

As Carina says above, the accused man was facing dreadful living conditions with which Valjean was all too familiar. Once the man was convicted, it might have been impossible to get him released.

Jean was in a difficult situation which very few people would ever find themselves in, and after a great struggle, he made the decision his conscience told him was right. Fantine's story is heartbreaking; it's true. Did Jean have the power to save her? No. But he did have the power and the duty to save the other man.


message 4: by Mike (last edited Mar 10, 2013 06:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Thanks for your replies, Carina and Margaret. First off, we don't know for sure that Fantine would have died regardless. (Unless I've forgotten something from the story, which is certainly possible.) Nevertheless, if he had brought back Cosette speedily, even if Fantine were eventually going to die, she might well have hung on for a couple months more. If nothing else, Jean Valjean could almost certainly have gotten Cosette safely away from the Thenardiers if he had waited.

I agree that the convicted man would have had awful living conditions until he was released. But if Valjean confessed later, how exactly could they have kept the other man in custody? I don't understand that. They couldn't both be Jean Valjean. And I would think that rescuing a fragile child would be much higher priority than rescuing a grown man from prison, no matter how terrible the conditions.

But even if what Valjean did was plausible, the fact the he didn't even seem to consider waiting does not seem plausible to me. IOW, if he had said to himself, "Should I wait and do this in a few weeks, or do it now?", I could possibly have understood his decision. But the fact that he didn't even seem to weigh that option (to our knowledge) does not seem believable to me.

I suppose that many of us will see this differently. :)


Margaret Mike - you are right, we can't be sure if Fantine would have died or not! It seems most likely, but perhaps not. If she had lived to see her daughter, she might have been happier in her last days. Who knows?

I don't know that Jean Valjean could have enough trust in the criminal justice system to assume the man would be released if he came forward later. It was described as pretty barbaric. Maybe he was afraid the man would die before he could come forward. He certainly felt urgency about it.

All sorts of possibilities. Of course the author had his own ideas. Maybe he just wanted to keep us all in suspense longer. :-)


Carina Hi Mike,

I think common consensus is that Fantine was dieing of tuberculosis and considering how ill she was the likelyhood of recovery was very slim, and if she were to 'hang on' it would have been an extremely painful life.

Also, unless I am missing something from reading the novel two years ago, Fantine thought Cosette was well treated and looked after by the Thernadiers - how were she and Valjean to know the child was used as an unpaid servant? If your choices were between saving someone from a horribal life or getting someone from, what you believe to be, an honest family and comfortable home which are you more likely to do?

I tend to go for the greater good argument in things - Valjean knew the conditions the man would suffer and was led to believe Cossette was currently safe and happy so he decided to save the man - the greater good in that scenario.

I agree with Margaret in that Valjean felt urgency to help that man - I mean he arrives basically just before he is sentenced if he had delayed and mulled it over then the man would have been sentenced and would be subject to the justice system.

Whether we agree or not Valjean does the moral thing, and something very few people would do in that circumstance (condemning yourself to save another). I think it is a very powerful statement about how religion effected Valjean.


Lauren I think that the long chapter dedicated to Jean deciding how to handle the situation makes it clear that regardless of what he did, the decision was not easy and that someone would get hurt no matter what. Javert mentions to him that, if convicted, Champmathieu would have remained in prison for life. That makes all of the arguments about his eventual release null and void. Carina, you are correct, she does have TB and by the time before her death she experiences extreme suffering from which the visits from Jean Valjean and the idea that someday she would see her daughter again were her only distractions. Also, if Cosette had returned, she would have to watch her mother die. That last part may not be entirely relevant, but it is something to think about.


message 8: by Mike (last edited Mar 10, 2013 11:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Margaret: If she had lived to see her daughter, she might have been happier in her last days. Who knows?

True.

I don't know that Jean Valjean could have enough trust in the criminal justice system to assume the man would be released if he came forward later.

That's certainly possible. Personally, I don't think he ever considered it. ;)

All sorts of possibilities. Of course the author had his own ideas. Maybe he just wanted to keep us all in suspense longer. :-)

That possible too. :)

Many literary critics of LM have called the characters one- or two-dimensional. I personally think that's the best explanation for what we're seeing here. Hugo was definitely a poet and capable of moving readers to tears, but I do think that many of his characters, to a certain extent at least, lacked a 3-D quality.

I've read LM 3 times. The first two times I read it, I didn't think a whole lot about it and just accepted everything blindly. Now, however, while I still consider LM a masterpiece overall, I see a lot of flaws in it that I didn't notice when I was younger.


message 9: by Mike (last edited Mar 11, 2013 12:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Carina: I think common consensus is that Fantine was dieing of tuberculosis and considering how ill she was the likelyhood of recovery was very slim, and if she were to 'hang on' it would have been an extremely painful life.

That could well be. But didn't she deserve to see her daughter one more time before she died?

Also, unless I am missing something from reading the novel two years ago, Fantine thought Cosette was well treated and looked after by the Thernadiers - how were she and Valjean to know the child was used as an unpaid servant?

Well, why did Fantine want to get Cosette away from the Thenardiers at all then?

If your choices were between saving someone from a horribal life or getting someone from, what you believe to be, an honest family and comfortable home which are you more likely to do?

If I saw a mother who was dying who desperately wanted to see her small daughter again, my priority would be to bring the child. I mean, could Fantine have died a more horrible death--believing that her hopes of her daughter ever leaving the Thenardiers were completely gone?

I tend to go for the greater good argument in things - Valjean knew the conditions the man would suffer and was led to believe Cossette was currently safe and happy so he decided to save the man - the greater good in that scenario.

Again, if Cosette is safe and happy, why bother to get her at all?

I mean he arrives basically just before he is sentenced if he had delayed and mulled it over then the man would have been sentenced and would be subject to the justice system.

Without seeing the trial, how did JV know the man would be sentenced? He didn't, at least not for a fact.

Whether we agree or not Valjean does the moral thing, and something very few people would do in that circumstance (condemning yourself to save another). I think it is a very powerful statement about how religion effected Valjean.

I agree that JV does what he thinks, in his own singular view, is the moral thing. However, it's funny how he doesn't think about the "moral" thing when he later escapes. LOL. :)


message 10: by Mike (last edited Mar 11, 2013 12:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Lauren: I think that the long chapter dedicated to Jean deciding how to handle the situation makes it clear that regardless of what he did, the decision was not easy and that someone would get hurt no matter what.

Thanks for your comments, Lauren. I agree with that.

Javert mentions to him that, if convicted, Champmathieu would have remained in prison for life.

That's assuming the real Jean Valjean never came forward, I think. Let me ask you this--what do you think would have happened if JV had confessed a month after the trial? With Champmathieu in prison, would the real JV now have been free to go about as he pleased? I don't think so. He would've gone to prison. And why would they have kept Champmathieu locked up as well? You can't keep two people locked up for being the same person. Also, how did JV know for a fact that Champmathieu would have been convicted in the first place?

Carina, you are correct, she does have TB and by the time before her death she experiences extreme suffering from which the visits from Jean Valjean and the idea that someday she would see her daughter again were her only distractions.

Exactly, and that's why I would think that letting the poor woman see her daughter again perhaps one final time would take priority. It certainly would have been the priority with me. But as it turned out, Fantine died in the absolute worst way possible. In addition, how did JV know that he would ever be able to retrieve Cosette? He didn't. The chances of him being able to procure a decent life for her were far better while he was mayor--as a convict, he might never have been able to escape.

Also, if Cosette had returned, she would have to watch her mother die. That last part may not be entirely relevant, but it is something to think about.

Yes, that would be sad. But at least she would get to see her mother again, and it might bring her some closure. Besides, Fantine herself was no doubt aware of this, or else why would she have asked JV to go get Cosette?

Anyway, as I said, I think Hugo invested so many amazing qualities in LM, but at the same time, I think he definitely had his lapses too.

Another thing to think about is that men and women may have different perspectives on this matter. Perhaps my perspective is more a "male" one. I believe the review that I saw on the Web was written by a male too.

Anyway, LM definitely provides a lot of fodder for interesting discussions. :) And in many of them, like this one, there's really no "right" or "wrong" answer.


Carina You're right Mike re the amount of discussion :D

I agree that it would have been nice for Fantine to have seen Cossette before she died, but even if Valjean had left to get her directly there is no guarentee that Fantine would have been alive when they returned. To me her deterioation was incredibly sudden so her death was inevitable.

Mike says:Well, why did Fantine want get Cosette away from the Thenardiers at all then? and
Again, if Cosette is safe and happy, why bother to get her at all?


You kind of answered your own question on this one - it was her dying wish to see her daughter.

Mike says:
If I saw a mother who was dying who desperately wanted to see her small daughter again, my priority would be to bring the child. I mean, could Fantine have died a more horrible death--believing that her hopes of ever seeing her daughter again were gone?


TBH I think forcing your child to see you die is more horrible. It is very difficult to say without being placed in the situation but I would rather save the innocent man from being subject to the criminal justice system (although considering how cushy that is now in some countries my decision might alter but from the time of the novel I'd rather save the man than get Cossette).

Mike says: Without seeing the trial, how did JV know the man would be sentenced? He didn't. For all he knew, the man could have ended up being exonerated.

That is true, but going on what we know of the criminal justice system of that time do you really think that likley? Valjean certainly didn't as he thought the amount of prison time he served for stealing a loaf of bread was absurd.

Mike says: I agree that JV does what he thinks, in his own singular view, is the moral thing. However, it's funny how he doesn't think about the "moral" thing when he later escapes

I do agree that Valjean is a bit of a lier when it comes to his escaping but I still think he chose to do what he found morally right. He had found this little girl who he had believed was safe and happy - discovered her being used as a servant and knew she had no living relatives. You see from Gavroche later in the novel what the children of the time had to suffer through - so Valjean thought it more moral to protect this helpless child (though I agree that it was self-serving too) rather than hand himself to Javert and leave Cossette to his mercy.


message 12: by Mike (last edited Mar 11, 2013 12:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Carina wrote: You're right Mike re the amount of discussion :D

:)

but even if Valjean had left to get her directly there is no guarentee that Fantine would have been alive when they returned. To me her deterioation was incredibly sudden so her death was inevitable.

That's true, but I suspect that nobody really thought of that. Otherwise, they would have brought up what to do in case she died first.

You kind of answered your own question on this one - it was her dying wish to see her daughter.

Yes, but why did JV promise to get Cosette after Fantine already died? Wouldn't it have been better to leave her in a place where she was supposedly happy?

TBH I think forcing your child to see you die is more horrible. It is very difficult to say without being placed in the situation but I would rather save the innocent man from being subject to the criminal justice system (although considering how cushy that is now in some countries my decision might alter but from the time of the novel I'd rather save the man than get Cossette).

I can understand your POV. Either way, I just wish that JV would have explicitly pondered some of these things in the book. :) That's why I think some of the content of LM is a bit half-baked.

That is true, but going on what we know of the criminal justice system of that time do you really think that likley? Valjean certainly didn't as he thought the amount of prison time he served for stealing a loaf of bread was absurd.

True.

He had found this little girl who he had believed was safe and happy - discovered her being used as a servant and knew she had no living relatives.

Wait--I thought he escaped purposely to go get Cosette? Am I wrong? (It's been about a year since I read that part, so I well could be.)


Carina Mike wrote: "Carina wrote: You're right Mike re the amount of discussion :D

:)

but even if Valjean had left to get her directly there is no guarentee that Fantine would have been alive when they returned. To ..."


Hi Mike,

Yup he did leave to get her, I took it that he was to bring her to her mothers grave etcetera not to look after her in the way he did like a father.

It has been two years since I read the book though so I might be mis-remembering! I am planning on reading this book later this year so I may well end up eating my words!


Margaret Mike wrote: "...I agree that JV does what he thinks, in his own singular view, is the moral thing. However, it's funny how he doesn't think about the "moral" thing when he later escapes. LOL. :) ..."

Jean Valjean was doing the moral thing by announcing his identity at court to save the man who was wrongly accused. That man would have gone to the galleys if JV had not. The story makes that quite clear - there would be a conviction. JV could not have known that - he did not know, for example, about the witnesses - but he knew enough about the court and prison system to know what fate he was leaving the man to.

Then Jean Valjean escapes. No one is going to go to prison in his place. The police are not going to rearrest Chapmathieu to go to prison in Valjean's place. The escape is, for lack of a better term, a victimless crime.

There is no comparison between these two acts.

This book does provide a lot of discussion material, that's for sure.


Lauren Mike wrote: "Lauren: I think that the long chapter dedicated to Jean deciding how to handle the situation makes it clear that regardless of what he did, the decision was not easy and that someone would get hurt..."

I think that Fantine is in denial of her impending death. Though deep down she knows that it will happen, she keeps telling herself that seeing Cosette again will make her better. Remember when she talks to Jean and Sœur Simplice about how she would see Cosette's first communion as if she were really planning it? Though I have never been in a near-death situation, I think that it would be difficult for anyone to accept with certainty that he or she would die.


message 16: by Mike (last edited Mar 11, 2013 08:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Carina:Yup he did leave to get her, I took it that he was to bring her to her mothers grave etcetera not to look after her in the way he did like a father.

It has been two years since I read the book though so I might be mis-remembering! I am planning on reading this book later this year so I may well end up eating my words!


OK. :) Somehow I thought he went to get Cosette for more than just to bring her to her mother's grave. Does anybody else remember?


message 17: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Margaret:
Then Jean Valjean escapes. No one is going to go to prison in his place. The police are not going to rearrest Chapmathieu to go to prison in Valjean's place. The escape is, for lack of a better term, a victimless crime.


It is still an extremely serious crime, though. But, of course, it's hard to really blame him. :)

This book does provide a lot of discussion material, that's for sure.

Yep.


message 18: by Mike (last edited Mar 11, 2013 11:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Lauren:I think that Fantine is in denial of her impending death. Though deep down she knows that it will happen, she keeps telling herself that seeing Cosette again will make her better. Remember when she talks to Jean and Sœur Simplice about how she would see Cosette's first communion as if she were really planning it? Though I have never been in a near-death situation, I think that it would be difficult for anyone to accept with certainty that he or she would die.

That's an excellent assessment, and makes a lot of sense. A couple more things:

If you're young and dying, you would be more likely to go into denial. If you're old and/or really want to die, you probably wouldn't. Obviously Fantine didn't want to die.

Fantine's illness (fever, etc.) may have muddied up her thinking too.


message 19: by Mike (last edited Mar 11, 2013 11:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Incidentally, Carina, I was just wondering:

Why are you going to read LM again if you only gave it 3 stars? :) And why did you only give it 3 stars in the first place?

I could see giving the book 4 stars--I debated whether to do that. But for me, the poetry and poignancy are enough to lift it to 5, even though I did have a few reservations in doing so. If it were possible, I would probably give it 4.5 stars.

But I'd be very interested to know what you didn't like about the book. And you're certainly not alone--many folks out there have only given it 3 stars.


Carina Mike wrote: "Incidentally, Carina, I was just wondering:

Why are you going to read LM again if you only gave it 3 stars? :) And why did you only give it 3 stars in the first place?

I could see giving the boo..."


I like re-reading books - heck at the moment I am re-reading some one star ones. To me a 3 star rating is I liked it but didn't love it or feel the need to keep reading it (the latter due to sudden changes in story direction which I just didn't get at first!).

The vast majority of the books I read are 3 stars - anything above that really are my favourites. I'm thinking that maybe reading the book again I'll be better able to appreciate it - I mean I'm pretty sure I read it before I read War and Peace and having read that gives me a lot better appreciation of other books!


Poet Gentleness Mike wrote: "Thanks for your replies, Carina and Margaret. First off, we don't know for sure that Fantine would have died regardless. (Unless I've forgotten something from the story, which is certainly possib..."

Let me add to this unending discussion.
Why JV confessed? Because once in the path of light, of correctness that the bishop had put him on, not confessing and let a man hang because of his omission/lie would take him back to the place he was before: in the dark, corrupted by his anger and guilt.
Fantine's dying was only there as an 'justification' for JV. Victor Hugo crafted the perfect excuse for JV to escape the law and continue in his right path: He was supposed to save Cosette's life and he had to do it because he, as owner of the factory, had not interfered and he has let Fantine be ón her way'. It was a God's mission.
It coupled perfectly with his now righteous beliefs.
I hope I have contributed.
Cristiane


Margaret Cristiane wrote: "Why JV confessed? Because once in the path of light, of correctness that the bishop had put him on, not confessing and let a man hang because of his omission/lie would take him back to the place he was before: in the dark, corrupted by his anger and guilt...."

Yes!


message 23: by Mike (last edited Mar 13, 2013 06:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Carina:I like re-reading books - heck at the moment I am re-reading some one star ones.

Reminds me of the old Life cereal commercials: "Give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything!!!" So, whenever someone has a book they don't like, I guess they say, "Give it to Carina, she'll read anything!!!" ;)

I guess you spend some time visiting Badreads.com as well. LOL.


The vast majority of the books I read are 3 stars - anything above that really are my favourites.

What are some of those?


message 24: by Mike (last edited Mar 13, 2013 06:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike not confessing and let a man hang because of his omission/lie would take him back to the place he was before: in the dark, corrupted by his anger and guilt.

Thanks, Cristiane. My main point, though, was about the timing of his confession, not so much the confession itself. I agree that letting a man go to prison in his place and not trying to stop it...ever...would have been very wrong.


Lauren Cristiane wrote: "Mike wrote: "Thanks for your replies, Carina and Margaret. First off, we don't know for sure that Fantine would have died regardless. (Unless I've forgotten something from the story, which is cer..."

Internal conflict! Bam! :)


Carina Mike wrote: "Carina:I like re-reading books - heck at the moment I am re-reading some one star ones.

Reminds me of the old Life cereal commercials: "Give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything!!!" So, whenever some..."


Hmm, I'll choose not to take that as an insult :P But yes, with some exceptions I am happy to read most books - I usually prefer that I have some interest in the topic but I like learning new things so *shrugs*

I have never heard of Badreads.com though - may check it out just to see...

Favourite books - a lot of manga and graphic novels will get 4 and 5 stars, to name specific books I'd say Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs, Interview with the Vampire (my favourite genres are becoming very obvious here), Pay it Forward, Game of Thrones, Good Omens, Gone with the Wind, Dracula, Black Beauty. White Fang, Lord of the Rings, The Book Thief...

To me 1 and 2 stars can either be books I dislike (more 1 star) or just one that are time killers. 3 stars are books I like and will definitely re-read at some point then anything above that tend to either be books I really like, my favourites or books that I found really emotive.


Poet Gentleness Mike wrote: "not confessing and let a man hang because of his omission/lie would take him back to the place he was before: in the dark, corrupted by his anger and guilt.

Thanks, Cristiane. My main point, thou..."


Ok, Mike, then let's think together because those who said this about the plot surely have seen the film and not read the book!!!
Fantine was dying! Cosette was far away. JV, (Monsieur Madeleine, Le Maire of M.sur M.) takes her to his home where he sets a infirmary for her. And set her to be taken care by the sisters.
He writes to the Thenadiers, sent them 300 francs (100 to paid Fantine's debt and 200 for them to bring back Cosette to see Fantine on M. sur M.).
The greedy Thenadiers keep asking for more money. They exchange letters. At last, the Thenadiers say that Cosette is not well to endure the journey.
JV tells Fantine he'll go fetch her in person. Fantine writes a letter to the Thenadiers.
It's then that Javert goes to JV and says that he, Javert, thought that Monsieur le Maire, that is JV, was an ex-convict. And that he found out he was wrong because when he notify the La prefecture de police a Paris they told him that he was mad. The real JV had been found and his judgment was to be pronounced on the next day.
A man was going to be sentenced to the galleys for all his life! Cosette was far away. Fantine was dying, so said by the doctor.
Plots and subplots all at the same time, in 19 CENTURY.
So the review expected JV to go and come back in coach from fetching Cosette in a matters of hours?And not go to Arras to save Champmathieu?
It's surely a question of time! :D
I hope I have helped, Mike.
Cris :)


message 28: by Yun (last edited Mar 14, 2013 07:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yun Yi Realistically, I think JV should've taken Cosette back to Fantine long ago before the point...he has plenty of money and power to take care of Cosette, to make Fantine happy... instead, he sent letters (twice or 3 times) to that filthy couple. Also, I agree with Mike that at later point JV could confess later and save Fantine and Cossette first, and hopefully, he may use his power as mayor to do some good later on to that poor man who got into jail as his scapegoat.

In brief, it really doesn't have to be this way, but all in all, Hugo did this way. Why? I think this is because LM is not a book of realism, but idealism, so Hugo created some exaggerated even unnecessary situation to accomplish his unique "task". For me, the storyline is not flawless, but that doesn't make this work any less perfect. To judge it by realistic thinking, we will miss the whole point. LM is brilliant not for its storyline, but its philosophy, its profound inquiry to human nature.


Margaret Yunyi wrote: "...and hopefully, he may use his power as mayor to do some good later on to that poor man who got into jail as his scapegoat. "

Once he confesses that he is the convict and Champmathieu is freed, he has no power as mayor. His life as mayor is over. JV knows that beforehand. That is part of his struggle the night before he leaves to take his place as the convict.

Indeed, later it says that without him, the town deteriorated, just as he feared it would. But sending another man to the galleys in his place would have been far worse.


message 30: by Yun (last edited Mar 14, 2013 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yun Yi Margaret wrote: Once he confesses that he is the convict and Champmathieu is freed, he has no power as mayor. His life as mayor is over. JV knows that beforehand. That is part of his struggle the night before he leaves to take his place as the convict.

You are right.
I wasn't really thinking about his "confess" later on, but some other means to save that poor Champmathieu. But it might be mission impossible though.

Here raises an issue: is saving one person's life more important than being a mayor so more people's lives could be lived in better way? Obviously JV chose the former. I think this is a choice of individualism - a true humanism.


Poet Gentleness Yunyi wrote: "Margaret wrote: Once he confesses that he is the convict and Champmathieu is freed, he has no power as mayor. His life as mayor is over. JV knows that beforehand. That is part of his struggle the n..."

Hey Yunyi,
I do like your questioning. It reminds me of a music that asks: 'Would you kill to save a life?'
I think that there are a few times in life that it's almost impossible to choose and be fair. In that light, JV chose what would give peace to his conscience despite that I think the community/public has precedence over the individual/particular.


message 32: by Margaret (last edited Mar 14, 2013 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Margaret Cristiane wrote: ...I think that there are a few times in life that it's almost impossible to choose and be fair. In that light, JV chose what would give peace to his conscience despite that I think the community/public has precedence over the individual/particular."

Now this is really interesting to me.

JV was responsible for Champmathieu because of the mistaken identity.

He was not responsible for the decline of the city after he left. He tried, during his night of struggle, to justify his staying because he predicted what would happen, but he also knew he was giving himself an excuse to avoid doing what he had to do - turn himself in.

The people of the city didn't have to let it all go once he was gone. They had some power over their destinies. Champmathieu had none.


Poet Gentleness Margaret wrote: "Cristiane wrote: ...I think that there are a few times in life that it's almost impossible to choose and be fair. In that light, JV chose what would give peace to his conscience despite that I thin..."

Great reply, Margaret. I agree with you!


message 34: by Mike (last edited Mar 16, 2013 07:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Carina: Hmm, I'll choose not to take that as an insult :P

I was just kidding. ;)

I have never heard of Badreads.com though - may check it out just to see...

I just made that up! :)

Favourite books - a lot of manga and graphic novels

I hadn't heard of "manga" before.

will get 4 and 5 stars, to name specific books I'd say Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs, Interview with the Vampire (my favourite genres are becoming very obvious here), Pay it Forward, Game of Thrones, Good Omens, Gone with the Wind, Dracula, Black Beauty. White Fang, Lord of the Rings, The Book Thief...

What about Frankenstein? :)

To me 1 and 2 stars can either be books I dislike (more 1 star) or just one that are time killers. 3 stars are books I like and will definitely re-read at some point then anything above that tend to either be books I really like, my favourites or books that I found really emotive.

Sounds like you sure do read a lot!


message 35: by Mike (last edited Mar 16, 2013 07:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Cris: So the review expected JV to go and come back in coach from fetching Cosette in a matters of hours?And not go to Arras to save Champmathieu?
It's surely a question of time! :D


I guess it's all a matter of whether you think JV would have believed that even confessing a few days later might still have been enough to save Champmathieu. Certainly he must have realized that by confessing during the trial he might not ever be able to save Cosette.

Yes, you have helped, Cris. :) Thanks for your input.


message 36: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Yunyi: LM is brilliant not for its storyline, but its philosophy, its profound inquiry to human nature.

The storyline is often riveting, but I agree that it's the latter that really makes the novel shine.


Carina Mike wrote: "Carina: Hmm, I'll choose not to take that as an insult :P

I was just kidding. ;)

I have never heard of Badreads.com though - may check it out just to see...

I just made that up! :)

Favourite b..."


Hey Mike,

Fair enough on the top ones :)

Frankenstein - had to read it for a school paper so it isn't one of my favourites though it isn't bad. I'll re-read it again at somepoint and hopefully the horror or having to overanalyse everything will have gone!

Mike says: Sounds like you sure do read a lot!

Mmm, not as much as I used to when younger. I am aiming to read 170 books this year and am close to having read 50 already.


message 38: by Mike (last edited Mar 18, 2013 06:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike Carina: Frankenstein - had to read it for a school paper so it isn't one of my favourites though it isn't bad. I'll re-read it again at somepoint and hopefully the horror or having to overanalyse everything will have gone!

I guess the horror of having to read it for a school paper was worse than the horror of the actual book! LOL.

Mmm, not as much as I used to when younger. I am aiming to read 170 books this year and am close to having read 50 already.

You read a book every 2-3 days and you don't call that a lot??!! LOL. 170 books? That's probably more than I've read in my entire lifetime! :)


message 39: by Alys (new)

Alys Marchand There's a good reason for Van Jean to get Cosette after Fantine died. As fas as Fantine knew, Cosette was ill, and the Thenardiers needed money to keep her well, even if Fantine thought they cared for Cosette. As far as she knew, they didn't have the money to care for her on their own. Once she died, who was going to pay for Cosette's needs?

Should Val Jean have just let Cosette remain with the Thenardiers without support and hope for the best? He saw it as his obligation to make sure the child was well after promising her mother. He went to the inn and saw she was being abused and neglected. If she was indeed happy and healthy, he probably would have left her.

As for why he didn't let the other man languish in prison for a while, prison back then wasn't like it is today. There wasn't aways enough food or clothing or shelter. Disease was rampant. Many people imprisoned died quickly. Within a month that other man could have been dead. As a convict who escaped parole, the false Val Jean could even have been executed.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

True, cosette could have seen her mother. But Fantine was near death as it was. It would have only been a moment and perhaps Cosette would have taken it quite hard as it would have been all she could remember of her mother.

Plus, Valjean promised Fantine he would take care of Cosette. As much as Fantine wanted to see her child, her ultimate wish was for her to live a good life. Valjean would have to hurry the Thenardiers to give him Cosette, and in the process Fantine might have died before he got back. He saved an innocent man's life, and still kept his promise.

Prison was very different back then. Valjean was so eager to be away from it for a reason. The police were very hard on criminals whose crimes were not even all that bad.

And, Jean always had that kind of, should I say, inferiority complex, to the point where he wanted to show people he wasn't perfect, because the man who saved him knew that he wasn't but loved him for what he was. At that point Jean just wanted to have this problem off his chest, even if it meant that he would be chased for the rest of his life.


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