Les Misérables


Vol. 2 Books 1 to 8

Summary: Volume 2/ Book 1

The narrator opens Volume 2 with a detailed description of the Battle of Waterloo, which saw the final defeat of Napoleon at the hands of the British. In his account, the narrator emphasizes the great respect that the French had for their leader, as well as the fact that the French had greater artillery strength than the British. The French, according to the narrator, were really defeated by bad luck and bad weather. Days of rain caused the French forces to become stuck on a muddy road and wiped out by the British. The rain also delayed fighting to the extent that the British had time to wait for Prussian reinforcements. Nevertheless, according to the narrator, the French fought bravely, and because of the strength of their ideals, should be seen as heroic. This heroism is embodied in the story of Cambronne, who valiantly fights to his death rather than surrender to the British.

After the French defeat, human scavengers roam the battlefield, gathering valuables from the bodies of the dead. One of these scavengers is a man named Thenardier. A wounded French officer, Georges Pontmercy, awakens as Thernadier is gathering valuables from the surrounding dead. He mistakenly believes that Thernadier has saved his life, even though Thenardier has in fact just robbed him, and vows to always remember him for this.

Summary: Volume 2/ Book 2

Book 2 opens with the narrator’s announcement that Jean Valjean was captured not long after he left M. sur M. He was given a life sentence of penal servitude on a galley ship in Toulon. The narrator reports several rumors that surround Valjean. For example, he is thought to have drawn over half a million francs from his bank before leaving M. sur M., but no one can locate the money. It is also rumored that Valjean spent some time prior to his capture in Montfermeil, the town on the outskirts of Paris where the Thenardiers live. An ex-convict named Boulatruelle is often witnessed digging in the forest of Montfermeil. One day, Thenardier gets...

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