Les Misérables


Vol. 3 Books 1 to 8

Summary: Volume 3/ Book 1

The narrator opens Volume 3 with an admiring sketch of a certain type of Paris street urchin which he fondly calls the “gamin.” This particular type of homeless child, according to the narrator, is remarkable for his wit, his tenacity of spirit, and his ability to endure a very hard life with a certain optimistic pragmatism. It is now nine years since Valjean rescued Cosette from the Thenardiers. Gavroche, the neglected son of the cruel innkeepers, is now a typical example of the Paris gamin. He is about eleven years old, and was kicked out by his parents when their fortunes took a turn for the worse. The Thenardiers, having assumed the name of Jondrette, live in abject poverty in the same tenement where Valjean once carried Cosette, the Gorbeau House. Gavroche has been able to fend for himself for years on the street, and he does not seem to harbor any resentment towards his parents. In fact, he visits them on occasion, but is always received with indifference. The former innkeepers live in one squalid room with their daughters. Next to them lives a young man named M. Marius, and the narrator now turns his attention to this character.

Summary: Volume 3/ Book 2

Marius Pontmercy was raised by his wealthy grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand, a devoted monarchist. Gillenormand is characterized as a tyrannical, womanizing aristocrat. He had two daughters, one being a prudish, foolish spinster who lives with him into old age; the other was the mother of Marius Pontmercy, and she died young. Her husband, Georges Pontmercy, was a heroic man, a colonel in Napoleon’s army who was given very little to retire on after the defeat at Waterloo. Because Monsieur Gillenormand despised his son-in-law politically, he wanted to wrest custody of his grandson Marius away from him. While Marius was still very young, his father gave in to Gillenormand’s threats to disinherit the child, and gave him up to his grandfather.

Summary: Volume 3/ Book 3


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