Tag Archives: javert vs valjean

Read Along: Les Misérables -Volume 2: Cosette

**SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**

I was truthfully quite bored at the beginning of this volume.  50+ pages dedicated to describe the Battle of Waterloo from which Hugo is making a point but it bores me because most of the names & places mean nothing to me.  It might actually makes a difference if I know some of these characters & places. I get it that it was a glorious war – great & cunning generals were involved, weather affecting outcomes, and even Lady Luck played a role.  But in the end, Napoleon was crushed and grave robbers took the spoils – despite it all, nothing truly changes for the better…

The only thing I really liked about this part was how Hugo brought it back to the storyline with the appearance of Thénardier. I had to laugh as to just how ridiculous he is and the whole situation with Pontmercy.

Did you enjoy this tale of Battle of Waterloo?

Valjean could be James Bond seeing the way he was escaping prison.  He planned.  He waited for a good opportunity.  He wasted not a moment and whilst people are distracted he escaped and faked his death at the same time.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he’d made a very good spy [see below].  I loved the way he made his entrance into Cosette’s life (by carrying a too-heavy bucket for her out of the darkest of night).  And when, he picked up Cosette and she laid her head down on his shoulders… *awww* I am touched & entranced – this is trust… the beginning of love… 🙂  On another note, it’s surprising that Cosette retained some sincerity & faith in others noting her past 5 years with the Thénardiers.  Is the point that she is intrinsically a good person?

Thénardier still posed just as ridiculous and his corruptness made just the perfect foil for Valjean.  Didn’t you feel contempt at when he was trying to squeeze Valjean for all he can?  Or didn’t you smirk in triumph when Valjean put him back in his place by showing him Fantine’s note?  or snort when he even considered to tackle Valjean ’til he realised the size differences?  Despite all this ridicule or maybe because he is so ridiculous, I think I actually like this character!  LOL

How do you think Cosette remained to be such sweet child after all these years?

Valjean really needed to disappear and I supposed Paris was a good choice – lots of people there, right?  Will be easy to escape notice, right?  Well, it appears he cannot keep from being noticed due to his strange behaviour, “the stranger who gives alms”.  And then, when he was trying to escape from Javert, he doesn’t know where he’s going! It’s pretty obvious that he hasn’t charted a Plan B (Escape Route when Discovered). Definitely, not a spy material!  Still, his desperation in combination with his superhuman strength is the combo necessary to ensure his & Cosette’s safety.  And he climbed over an impossible wall for the haven on the other side.

Javert is truly a man Obsessed.  He will pursue Valjean not caring of the little girl implicated in his chase.  She is, to him, expendable.  He is ambitious and yet, cautious, in trying to ensure his success to be such that a promotion will be the undeniable result.  This is a man I can envision to be losing sleep as he hunted for his prey, unbending in his faith in the law and their systems.  How terrifying!

One wonders whether Javert has considered all and chose to place his absolute faith in The Law or whether he was in such desperate circumstances that he saw The Law as his only “escape route” and therefore, blinded to all other avenues by his self-imposed blinkers…

*sigh* and we had another tangentials to dwell in the Convent and the Church.  Not a very positive view this time around (in comparison to M. Myriel) yet it highlights the point where a system may be corrupt and yet, there are those with pure faith and in practice too.  Nevertheless, a convent is a perfect ‘retirement’ for Valjean – its seclusion from the world outside gave Valjean the sense of security and peace he has not previously (another chance at life).

I think there is a place in the world for convents – but unfortunately, the one we are particularly seeing in this book, is a very self-serving one.  One where you live in utter seclusion from the world, not being able to see your own relatives much less touch them affectionately.  This is utter tosh to me.  I believe that being children of God calls us to serve others and how can you serve anybody when you are living “outside” of the world?

What do you think life in a convent will be like for Cosette?  Especiall in a harsh one like the convent of Petit-Picpus?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this volume… do link up your post and it doesn’t work for you, leave a link on the comments 🙂

Read Along: Les Misérables -Volume 1: Fantine

**SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**

I am surprisingly enjoying my read the past week.  Surprising because the first couple of times I’ve picked this up, I’ve never got beyond the Bishop.  I think maybe the glass of wine / honeymead I consumed each reading session helped?  I don’t normally drink and I can safely say, that I’ve probably drank more the past week than I have last year… LOL.  As I was saying to hubby, ‘It’s set in France… France – Wine, am I reaching a bit far, do you think?’

In my ‘Introduction’, Lee Fahnestock commented that ‘Hugo conceived of the book as the story of a saint, a man, a woman, and a little girl.’

What do you think of Bishop Myriel?  He’s definitely described as being truly saintly; I’m wondering if there’s any pessimistic reader out there?

He would talk like that, gravely and paternally, inventing parables when he lacked examples, going straight to the point with a few phrases and a lot of images, with the very eloquence of Christ, convincing and persuasive.

For me, I really do admire him and wish that I could be like him! One thing is for sure, I would probably be happier with life if I’m not so attached to many material things.  However, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t struggling with some things though – although, ‘struggle’ is probably too strong a word. We still see him ‘learning’ things at times – like finally letting go of the silvers (the last luxury items he had held onto for so long) etc.

For those of you who are reading this for the first time, was there any assumptions you have made previously from whatever source which was just incorrect?  Was there anything which surprises you from the past week’s readings?

I somehow assumed that Fantine’s lover was a sailor or something like that – who knows why… that was a wacky assumption on my part!  And he turned out to be some snooty bratty rich dude!  Who, by the by, was not impressive at all – balding with bad teeth!  Okay, so his appearance obviously wasn’t what he has going for him…

According to Wikipedia, there are some differences in the musical:

  • Rather than being fired for being an unwed mother, a fellow female worker steals her letter from the Thénardiers claiming another need for money; the worker presumes that she is a prostitute to cover her debts with the low wages. Valjean sees this, but leaves this to his foreman; the foreman, his advances having been rejected by Fantine, fires her.
  • Fantine also does not appear to be illiterate as when the foreman hands her the letter from the Thénardiers she is able to read it just as well as anyone else.
  • Fantine dies peacefully in hospital with Valjean at her side after entrusting him with Cosette; Javert never reveals Valjean’s true identity to her, as he arrives after her death.

And Javert!!  I always thought of him as truly mean!  But reading his background made me understand just how circumstances made him into such a hard man.  He is pitiable not only because of his background but that he’s not been able to preserve his humanity – the compassion for others.

What do you think of the contrast between Javert & Valjean?

Valjean did not have an easy childhood himself nor did he have an easy time as an adult being incarcerated to begin with and then ostracized for being a parolee and yet… a kindness granted him a new lease of life!  A kindness which drives him to compassions towards others.

Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.

Does this provoke a serious review on your attitude towards others?  A little kindness on our part to others (like giving up a seat on the train even!) may make that much of a difference to others.

“The Infinite exists. It is there.  If the infinite had no me, the me would be its limit; it would not be the infinite; in other words, it would not be.  But it is.  Then it has a me.  This me of the infinite is God.”

Over to you!  What has been the high point for you this week?  Any quote/s which bowled you over this week?

By the way, I am actually away for the weekend (playing camp parents at a youth camp) and I think internet connection may be patchy at best, so I’ll get back to you after the weekend!  Have a fantastic one, everybody!

I have this song in my head whilst I’m typing this post, so… does anyone remember this?

Post being edited to include links to other posts:

The Dead Authors Club

Half-Filled Attic

Love Notes in Library Books

Recipes for a Better World