Reading the Chunksters discussion

Les Misérables
This topic is about Les Misérables
12 views
Side-Reads > 05/05 Les Miserables, Part IV, Books XII - XV

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Zulfiya (last edited May 07, 2014 12:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) We are finishing book IV in this thread, and things do not look bright for anyone in the novel.

Marius is afraid to lose Cosette, Valjean is jealous to lose Cosette, first lives were claimed by death due to the revolution, and many hearts are broken.

1. What is your reaction to the death of Mabeuf (the man who tells Marius the truth about his father)?

2. What do you feel about Eponine? Do you find her the most complex character? Do you think that love ennobles her and makes her act self-sacrificially?

3. Why does Hugo 'kill' two characters quite fast in succession? Is he under the obligation to tight up the plot lines and is getting rid of fringe characters or is he showing that revolution, regardless how noble its incentive and origins, is still a bloody business?

4. Do you understand Jean Valjean? Hugo states that Valjean was many in one (like in a classic Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex; I think I have already mentioned that some elements of the novel remind me of Greek tragedy: fate, coincidences, etc). Valjean is a father, a mentor, a brother, a mother, and a husband for Cosette. Do you think it is true that his jealousy is based on certain sexual nuances?

5. Valjean is a man of perpetual ethical struggle. First, when he gets the letter intended for Cosette, ands his feelings could be defined as 'schadenfreude'; he is gloating, but eventually he understands the tragedy and enters the scene of battle and death because this is where Marius is, who is driven by the desire to die. What is Valjean's motive? To die and let Marius take his place? To help the rebels and the revolutionaries? To see Marius in action? To see Marius die? All of them?

P.S. As some of you may know, I will be travelling this week, so I plan to post another thread this week that will cover the next books (Books I and II, Part V).
Hopefully, after the hassle of travelling, I will be able to post normally during the weekend.


message 2: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda | 1319 comments The death of Mabeuf was absolutely heartbreaking to me, and also the end of his life leading up to that final moment where he decided to hoist the flag. He just wanted to work in his garden and live a simple life, to earn enough money to live and enjoy his garden and books, but it was not meant to be. He couldn't earn enough by what he loved to do, and succumbed to selling his beloved books while his garden withered away. I knew he had lost the will to live when he heard of the revolution soon to take place and gravitated towards it, there was nothing left for him and the relief of dying soon was what was left for him. :(

I did wonder why Jean Valjean chose to follow the battle where Marius was. Was it to help in the battle, or because Marius was there he needed to go for some reason? I hope someone has some insight into his motive.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Mabeuf's death was so heartbreaking. It is one thing when one lives to the fullest and dies heroically defending his ideas or his nearest and dearest.

Mabeuf's life was miserable - the garden hat was wiltering, the books that he had to sell to support himself. What a painful, miserable life. I only wish he had lived the life he could have enjoyed instead of parting with the books he really cherished.

On the other hand, maybe it was a logical end for him. He would have never been able to start his life anew. He had lost everything, and life was desperate. At least, he died a heroic death.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments It broke my heart when Mabeuf had to sell off his books one by one! I can barely part with a paperback, let alone those priceless treasures! How horrible! And such a death at the end, for a man who wanted a simple life, staying out of everyone's way.

This section started out a bit slow, but boy, it's sped up quite a bit! The action is climbing and it feels as though we're hurtling toward the climax of the story. I'm really caught up in the action now and want to see how it plays out, although I know it can't end well for all.


message 5: by Zulfiya (last edited May 19, 2014 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Alana wrote: "It broke my heart when Mabeuf had to sell off his books one by one! I can barely part with a paperback, let alone those priceless treasures! How horrible! And such a death at the end, for a man who..."

Mabeuf is one of the most likable minor characters in the novel, if not the most likable one, and his end was definitely heartrending, especially because he had to part with his most precious possessions in his life. As a book lover who cherishes any book I enjoyed, I dread the thought of parting with them. I am sure you and many others can relate to this experience.


Lyndi (mibookobsession) I felt sad that Mabeuf died, considering how his life was in ruins. But after giving up everything--his garden, his writing, his books--he must have felt he had nothing left and might as well die a hero than a homeless pauper.
I don't think Eponine gave her life to be self-sacrificing. She even said that she sent Marius there to die rather than let Cossette have him. But she wanted to die first before losing him. She may have saved his life now for selfish reasons, but figured he would die later anyway. Rather like Juliet without her Romeo.
I think Jean Valjean felt like father, mother, brother, husband, etc., but I didn't think it was in a sexual way. I think he's so jealous because she's everything to him and he gave up so much for her, he wants to be everything to her also and for her to never leave him. But given his ethical struggles in the past, even though he's glad at first that Marius will die, I don't think his conscience will allow him to let Marius sacrifice himself because he's keeping them apart. Maybe also, like Eponine, he doesn't want to live anymore if he has to lose Cosette?


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Lyndi wrote: "I think Jean Valjean felt like father, mother, brother, husband, etc., but I didn't think it was in a sexual way. I think he's so jealous because she's everything to him and he gave up so much for her, he wants to be everything to her also and for her to never leave him. But given his ethical struggles in the past, even though he's glad at first that Marius will die, I don't think his conscience will allow him to let Marius sacrifice himself because he's keeping them apart. Maybe also, like Eponine, he doesn't want to live anymore if he has to lose Cosette? "

Valjean's struggles are titanic even when his life is relatively peaceful - struggle, physical or emotional, is his life.Thus, even now he is struggling and his heart is a battlefield.


Deana (ablotial) I enjoyed this section, though not as much as some of the others. I didn't really care very much about all the details of the drinking at the restaurant, and who used to own it, and the pink post, etc. But once Mabeuf, Marius and Valjean became involved, I became much more interested.

Mabeuf's death was certainly tragic, but as many mentioned, he really didn't have much to live for once he'd given away all his possessions. And at least he died a hero and an inspiration to all of those young men.

And I loved Gavroche more and more during this section. He certainly is a spunky lad. I found it interesting that Eponine didn't want him to see her dying there because he would reprimand her, showing that she still has respect and loves him despite their parents' treatment of the boy. I do wonder what happened to the other two boys and whether they will show up later in the book safe and sound.

I do not believe Eponine was being self-sacrificing, but I was pleased to see I was correct about her loving Marius. But sending him to die with her rather than end up with Cosette is sad -- and all this time I thought she was getting him together with Cosette on purpose because his happiness was more important than her own. I wonder if she ever did realize that Cosette was the same girl from her past?

I loved the scene with Valjean and Gavroche -- Gavroche thinking the money was a bribe to keep him from breaking lights, but realizing Valjean was "a fine fellow" after all.

I do think Valjean will come around and help Marius. So far in this book he has been the most morally upstanding character ever since his conversion. I don't think his conscious would allow Marius to come to harm, even if he does not Cosette to end up with the boy.


back to top