Friday, 23 November 2012

Les Miserables, Vol V: Everything Must Come to An End

“Listra,” said one of my friends, “I bet you will cry reading Les Miserables. I am a man, and I cried when I read it.”

It doesn't need a prophet to predict that I did. I did cry reading the finale of Les Miserables. There are so many things happen, and everything moves its way towards the conclusion. I don't even know how to start relating what's going on in this last volume. But I will try my best.

The Insurrection

The people of Paris, tired with all political insecurity and inadequate life standard start to move. The Friends of the ABC leads in the front line. That night, Paris is a living storm. Javert is captured, Marius and Jean join the people's army. Enjolras, Combeferre and other friends are on fire, Grantaire soundly sleeps, and everything seems right. Then one by one people die.

Almost all those who stay in the barricade die; Enjolras and Grantaire are the last of them. Jean however, manages to slip away, carrying Marius, heavily wounded, on his back and goes through the sewer.

The Marriage

Jean is sure of Marius' love and state, and decides to give Cosette to him. On the other hand, Marius and his grandfather are now reconciled. The marriage arranged as soon as possible, and the couple are now finally married, happy, and rich – thanks to Cosette's inheritance from her kind foster father.

Jean, on the other hand, sinks into the darkness again. He has lost his reason for living. He still lingers in the old memories when Cosette was just a little girl, wearing black dress to mourn her mother. He doesn't have anyone else in the world, but he doesn't want to either drag Cosette to his world of drag himself to hers. Both are, in his eyes, wrong. He at last makes a decision on which I can't agree – separate himself from Cosette's happiness.

Jean's Confession

Jean, being sure that Cosette will be happy with Marius, confesses to him that he is an ex-convict. Marius at first states no objection, but later he realises that Jean's situation could bring danger to him and Cosette. He allows Jean to meet Cosette, but Jean slowly withdraws himself from the happy couple.

I'd be very glad if I could say that Jean's decision is stupid. But there are times when you feel that withdrawing yourself from people you love would bring them more happiness, especially when you feel that there's nothing you can do to help them, or that you will just be a burden to them. Perhaps that thought lingers in Jean's mind.

Marius, doubting the source of Jean's fortune, decides to live a simple life with Cosette. We all know how stubborn he is in financial matters. Marius even begins to think that Jean has not only committed a thief, but also a murder. He doesn't know that Javert commited suicide.

Light can emerge from the most unexpected place, even the darkest place we can imagine. Such light enlightens all matter in Les Miserables. Thernadier, thinking that he could discredit Jean, tells Marius that Jean didn't kill Javert or steal from M. Madeleine. He then tells Marius of the sewer episode, not knowing that it was Marius that Jean brought with him that night.

Marius and Cosette dash to Jean's place, when the old man is already dying. Before his death Jean wraps everything in Les Miserables to a conclusion, and then he leaves Cosette to live happily with Marius.

It would be a lie to say that I'm not sad. But I'm satisfied that Jean dies with much satisfaction, because he knows that he has done the right thing, not always in the right manner, but with the right motive. I'm happy that he has fulfilled his promise to M. Myriel and Fantine. I have nothing to complain.  


  1. your male friend was right Listra. i cried too (more than once i think) while reading the unabridged copy of Les Miserables years ago. what a story and it remains to be one of my favorite classics!

    1. Me too. I can't wait for the time when I can sit back and re-read the story. It invites deep contemplation and thoughts.