Jean Valjean: Summary and Analysis
War Between Four Walls - Summary
Enjolras tells the men they should leave the barricade if they do not wish to continue fighting, but they are surrounded by soldiers who will shoot anyone who tries to leave. Enjolras takes Combeferre into the basement room, and they return with four National Guard uniforms which can be worn to get out safely. Five men step forward. They debate which of them will take the uniforms but reach no conclusion. Unexpectedly, a fifth uniform is thrown on the pile by Jean Valjean who has easily passed through the streets wearing it. Marius recognizes him at once as M. Fauchelevent. He is invited to stay, but Enjolras warns him that they will all die.
The five men leave and the others build the barricade higher. They are fired upon and when the shells stop, Gavroche jumps back into the barricade.
Gavroche wants to replenish their supply of bullets, so he takes a basket from the wine shop and collects cartridge boxes from the 20 dead soldiers whose bodies are just outside the barricade. The fog and his small size protect him as he moves further into the street. Eventually, he is spotted and a bullet hits the body next to him. Another hits the pavement. The National Guard continue firing at him, always missing, and he mocks them, playing a hide-and-seek game with them. Those in the barricade watch breathlessly while he sings and dodges bullets. Eventually, he is struck.
Marius and Combeferre rush out to help him, but Gavroche is dead. Combeferre carries the basket while Marius brings the body back to the barricade. He is thinking that he is doing for Gavroche what Gavroche’s father did for his father. The difference is that his father was alive when he was rescued by Thénardier. When Marius leans down to pick up the body, his head is grazed by a bullet. Courfeyrac takes off his scarf and ties it around the wound.
The barricade has been fortified again, and the wine shop made into the inner fortress. It is noon. Combeferre tells Marius to take watch outside. He says he will give the final orders from the wine shop. Turning to Javert, he tells him that he will not forget him. Placing a pistol on the table, he instructs the men that the last one out of the room should take Javert to the small barricade and execute him there so his body will not be found with theirs. Jean requests that he be rewarded by being the one to shoot Javert. Enjolras tells him to take the spy, and Jean picks up the pistol and cocks it.
Jean unties Javert’s hands but leaves his feet bound. Leading him by a rope, he takes the prisoner to a small street at the end of the barricade near a pile of corpses of their fallen comrades. When they are alone, Jean tells Javert who he is, and Javert responds by telling him to take his revenge. Jean cuts the ropes and tells him he is free to go. Although he does not expect to survive the battle, he gives Javert his address and the name he has been using. When Javert leaves, Jean fires the pistol in the air and returns to the barricade.
The barricade is assaulted again and again by the National Guards. Almost all of the rebels are killed or wounded, but after ten assaults, the barricade is still not taken. Bossuet, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Joly, and Combeferre are all killed. Marius continues to fight in spite of multiple wounds. Only Enjolras is uninjured.
Enjolras and Marius are at opposite ends of the barricade. The leaders who were in the center are now all dead, and the barricade falls to the invaders. Marius is shot in the shoulder. His last thoughts are of Cosette and of his fear that he will be taken prisoner.
(The entire section is 5,453 words.)