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BOOK SIXTH: Little Gavroche
We learn that two more children had been born to the Thenardiers who gave them to a woman named Magnon. Magnon was collecting monthly payments from Gillenormand because she had claimed that her own two children where his. When her children die, she needs a replacement in order to continue receiving the funds. Since Gillenormand doesn’t see or question her, she is able to take the Thenardier children as a substitute. The two little boys are cared for well enough until Magnon is arrested. Then they find themselves on the street without food or shelter. Gavroche finds them, although he doesn’t know they are his brothers. He finds some bread for them to eat and gives them shelter from the storm inside his “room,” a giant, hollow elephant statue near the Bastille. While the children sleep, Gavroche joins Montparnasse and some other thieves who help Thenardier escape from prison.
Hugo focuses again on the children. Curiously enough, those of the story seem to be able to associate with criminal elements, take advantage of certain aspects of it to get what they want or need, and yet come away from it untainted. He said in an earlier chapter that the children are the heart and soul of Paris. That may be an exaggeration, but they are certainly able to live on the edge, maintaining contact with both the underworld and the decent citizens. Consequently, the children of the streets often had access to information that escaped adults. Gavroche receives no real thanks for having helped his father escape.