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Free Study Guide-Les Miserables by Victor Hugo-Free Book Notes Summary
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BOOK EIGTH: Counter Stroke

Summary

(Sections I-IV) Valjean returns to Fantine who asks again for Cosette. He tells her that Cosette is with him but that she, Fantine, is not yet well enough to see her. Fantine hallucinates when she hears a child laughing in the courtyard; she believes it is Cosette. Javert enters and speaks cruelly to Fantine as well as to Valjean. The shock of seeing the man who once tried to arrest her is the last straw for Fantine who goes into convulsions and dies. Valjean speak tenderly to her, arranges her head on the pillow, then gives himself up to Javert.

(Section V) Valjean is placed in the city prison. Within two hours all of M sur m except for three or four loyal friends turn their backs on him, forgetting all the good he has done. He escapes from the prison by breaking a bar out of the window and returns to his room where he leaves instructions regarding the burial of Fantine, money to repay Petit Gervais, and packs up his own meager belongings (being particularly careful to wrap up the candlesticks) and hurries away.


Notes

There is a substantial time lag in the life of Valjean after this chapter. Whether he surrenders or is taken, we are not told, but he is captured and imprisoned for about five years. During this time, Thenardier will perform increasingly depraved acts and the treatment of Cosette, with the absence of Fantine’s money, will get as bad as it could get without killing her.

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