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Les Misérables | Study Guide

Victor Hugo

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Les Misérables | Part 4, Book 11 : Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet (The Atom Fraternizes with the Hurricane) | Summary



After he helped spring his father from jail, Gavroche goes back to the elephant to feed the children breakfast. Then he tells them to meet him back at the elephant that night. Unfortunately, the children disappear, the narrator tells us, never to be heard of again. When the insurrection begins, Gavroche steals an old horse pistol from a secondhand shop and begins brandishing it in the street. He then joins Enjolras's streetfighters led also by Courfeyrac, Combeferre, and Feuilly, and most of them are armed. Also on hand is Bahorel and Jean Prouvaire. Gavroche sees another band of street fighters approaching, and the old man Mabeuf is marching with them. Courfeyrac had found him "walking among the bullets" and urged him to go home, but he has insisted he wants to join in. The crowd moves toward the Rue Saint-Denis.


Hugo puts a lot of language in Gavroche's mouth that seems uncharacteristic for a 12-year-old street urchin. He is often funny and sarcastic, and he has a sophisticated understanding of the world, since he has lived on the streets most of his life. He also speaks very well when he is not speaking argot. No doubt, Gavroche is both a symbol of innocent children caught in the machinery of the system, as well as a mouthpiece for the author's ideas. Gavroche tries to protect the downtrodden in his own small way. Unfortunately, he fails with the two small boys he befriends, who disappear from the story, and with Mabeuf, who turns in his windfall to the police. Gavroche's sympathy for the revolutionaries makes sense. He is an intelligent child of the streets, and he understands it is people like him, members of the underclass, who stand to benefit if the working class seizes power.

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