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?

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.

Cosette: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Jean return to prison? What is he convicted of and what is his sentence?

2. How does Jean escape?

3. How does Jean fulfill a promise to Fantine?

4. What does Cosette give Jean that he has never had before?

5. In the first section of the book, the author compares Fantine to a lark. What bird images does he use in the second section?

6. Why do people refer to Jean as the “beggar who gives alms”?

7. Why does Jean abruptly leave Gorbeau House?

8. What is Jean’s greatest fear in being recaptured?

9. How does Jean escape from Javert and his men?

10. How do Jean and Fauchelevant convince the prioress and the reverend mother to allow Jean and Cosette to stay at the convent?

1. Jean reveals his identity when he testifies at Father Champ¬mathieu’s trial. He is found guilty of assault and robbery and condemned to death. His sentence is later commuted to hard labor for life.

2. After climbing a rigging to save a sailor who has lost his balance, Jean plunges into the sea and is presumed to have drowned.

3. He rescues Cosette from the Thénardiers.

4. For the first time in his life, Jean has someone to love.

5. Jean and Cosette are referred to as the owl and the wren when they find refuge in Gorbeau House. Jean is wise, and Cosette is small and helpless like a little wren. Gorbeau House becomes their nest, a place of safety and solace.

6. Jean’s shabby appearance makes him look like a beggar, but he always gives money to the beggars he passes on the street.

7. He leaves to escape from Javert, who has moved into Gorbeau House.

8. Jean’s greatest fear is losing Cosette.

9. He escapes by scaling a garden wall and using the rope from a streetlight to hoist Cosette over the wall of the convent.

10. They say that Jean is Fauchelevent’s brother, who has come with his granddaughter to visit. Saying they have no money, they convince the prioress and the reverend mother to admit Cosette to the convent school as a charity case.

Marius: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What kind of man is M. Gillenormand?

2. What were the highlights of Pontmercy’s military career?

3. Why does Marius live with his grandfather instead of his father?

4. What instruction does Pontmercy leave Marius when he dies?

5. How does the information Monsieur Mabeuf gives Marius change his mind about his father and about politics?

6. When Marius falls in love, how does he inadvertently change her life?

7. What lies do the Jondrettes tell to gain sympathy and assistance from M. Leblanc and his daughter?

8. What is Jondrette’s real identity, and why does he hate M. Leblanc?

9. Why does Marius not act immediately to save Leblanc and his daughter?

10. How does the appearance of Javert abort Jondrette’s plan?

1. M. Gillenormand is a bourgeois man who is somewhat of a snob. He wants to control everyone in his life, and when they do not do what he wants, he punishes them. He rejects the husband of his daughter for political reasons, prevents Marius from living with his father, beats his servants, and treats his 50-year-old daughter like a child. He banishes Marius from his house when Marius disagrees with him.

2. He was a decorated soldier of the revolution who fought in almost every campaign including Waterloo.

3. M. Gillenormand has threatened to disinherit Marius...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Saint Denis: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Jean rent the house in the Rue Plumet?

2. Why does Jean decide to leave the safety of the convent?

3. What events prompt Jean to decide to leave the country?

4. How does Eponine manipulate both Cosette and Marius?

5. To what degree are the men in the barricade outnumbered? What is the inevitable outcome of the battle?

6. Who is the spy in the barricade, and what is his fate?

7. How does Jean read the message Cosette sends to Marius even before Marius receives it?

8. How does Jean intercept the message Marius sends Cosette from the barricade and what does he do when he reads it?

9. What does Marius threaten to do if the soldiers do not retreat?

10. What does Marius write in his letter to Cosette?

1. He rents the house because it is located on a deserted street and because it has a secret passage to an outside entrance a third of a mile away from the house. The passage will provide a safe exit if escape is necessary.

2. Jean decides to leave the convent after Fauchelevent dies so that Cosette may have a more normal life.

3. Two events convince Jean that he is in danger of being discovered. The first is that he finds an address scratched on his garden wall. He does not know that Marius wrote it there for Cosette. The other is that a paper with the word “REMOVE”...

(The entire section is 487 words.)

Jean Valjean: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does the relationship between Gavroche and Marius compare to the relationship between Pontmercy and Thénardier?

2. How does M. Gillerormand react to Cosette and Marius’ marriage?

3. What is the final outcome of the battle at the barricade?

4. What obstacles does Jean encounter as he carries Marius through the sewers of Paris?

5. Why does Javert commit suicide?

6. Why does Jean pretend to have an injury when Cosette gets married?

7. Why is Jean despondent after Cosette’s wedding?

8. What evidence does Thénardier produce to prove that he is telling Marius the truth?

9. How does Marius resolve his obligation to Thénardier?

10. What final requests does Jean make before he dies?

1. Both Marius and Thénardier risk their lives to rescue a fallen comrade. When Gavroche is shot, Marius carries his body back to the barricade just as Thénardier carried Pontmercy to safety when he was injured in battle. The difference is that Pontmercy was still alive when Thénardier rescued him.

2. He invites Marius and Cosette to live with him. He gives up his own room for them and fills it with fine furniture.

3. The soldiers break through the barricade and kill most of the rebels. Jean sees Marius fall and carries him to safety.

4. The dampness of the sewer makes it...

(The entire section is 434 words.)