Fantine: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is a convict discriminated against after being released from prison?

2. What was Jean’s crime? Why was he in prison so long?

3. What is Jean’s moral dilemma the night he stays with the bishop?

4. What does the bishop do when Jean steals his silver?

5. Who is Petit Gervais?

6. Why does Fantine leave her child with the Thénardiers?

7. How does the author characterize the Thénardiers?

8. How does Jean make a fortune in M——sur M——?

9. How does Jean’s rescue of Fauchelevant put him at risk?

10. Why does Jean risk revealing his true identity when Father Champmathieu is arrested?

Answers
1. Convicts are treated as second class citizens, and they are often paid lower wages. All doors are closed to them, and it is impossible for them to avoid being identified as convicts because they are forced to register with legal authorities wherever they go.

2. Jean was originally sentenced to five years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. His sentence was eventually lengthened to a total of 19 years because of five failed escape attempts.

3. Jean wrestles with his conscience as he tries to decide whether or not to steal the bishop’s silver. Although the bishop’s treatment of him makes him feel guilty, he eventually succumbs to temptation.

4. The bishop forgives him and tells the police that the silver belongs to Jean, thus saving him from being returned to prison.

5. Petit Gervais is a young street musician from Savoy who meets Jean in the country. Jean steals money from him and later regrets it.

6. Fantine is poor and alone. She cannot care for her child because she must travel to another city to seek employment.

7. The Thénardiers are greedy and immoral. They are part of a “bastard class” who have none of the good qualities of the middle class and all of the faults of the lower class.

8. Jean makes a fortune by revolutionizing the manufacturing process of jet beads.

9. By using his Herculean strength to rescue Fauchelevent, Jean risks being recognized as a convict. When he was in prison, he gained a reputation for having extraordinary strength.

10. His conscience dictates that he must testify on Father Champmathieu’s behalf because he knows that, unless he steps forward, the man will be judged guilty of crimes he did not commit.