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Les Misérables | Study Guide

Victor Hugo

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Les Misérables | Part 4, Book 9 : Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet (Where Are They Going?) | Summary



Jean Valjean is worried about the unrest in the city, which has increased police presence, and he has seen Thénardier prowling around town. He has also gone into the garden and sees where Marius has written his address on the wall for Cosette, which adds to his worry. He is thinking about going to England, and as he muses on an embankment out of doors, an urchin suddenly throws a note on his knees which says "Move Out" and then slips away before he can see the messenger. Marius is also distraught; he comes to the garden in the evening and finds everyone gone, and then he hears Eponine yell at him, "Your friends are expecting you at the barricade." Meanwhile Mabeuf has rejected his windfall from heaven and turns the purse with the cold coins in it to the police. He has now sold the rest of his books and valuable possessions to pay for medicine for his housekeeper and for food, but now there is nothing left. He hears about the riot near the Arsenal and leaves the house to find it.


Jean Valjean, escape artist, has more than one sign he is in danger of being caught up in the coming chaos. But if he had any doubt, his decision is confirmed when a note lands on his lap telling him to move out. Of course the person who drops him that line is Eponine, who probably followed him on his walk for the express purpose of delivering that message. She has held off the bandits for the time being, but she knows they will be back. Why does Eponine tell Marius to go to the barricade? Perhaps she wants to distract him, since she knows he will be heartbroken without Cosette. Or perhaps someone sent her. As for Mabeuf, he is at the end of his options, having refused the money from Gavroche, and in a short time he will be an 80-year-old beggar on the street. He goes to the barricade, perhaps to fight for the poor and the downtrodden or maybe in the hope of being killed and put out of his misery. Hugo's last plot threads are now being tied up as he moves toward the climax of the story, which takes place at the barricade.

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