Study Guide

Les Misérables Part 4, Book 4

By Victor Hugo

Part 4, Book 4

Help From Below May Be Help From Above

  • One evening, Jean Valjean comes home after visiting the poor. He has a big burn on his forearm, which we readers know he got from the tussle he had in the Jondrette (Thénardier) apartment. The wound gives Jean Valjean a fever and he has to stay in bed for a few months.
  • We return at this point to the young boy Gavroche, who is looking for a place to sleep, so he ducks into a hedge next to a private garden. While there, he listens to an old man named Monsieur Mabeuf (remember him?) talking about how he's behind on his rent.
  • Then Gavroche looks out to the street and sees a well-known criminal named Montparnasse attack an elderly man and try to get his money. But the elderly man overpowers him and pins him to the ground. After a moment, he gets up and lets Montparnasse go, but not before giving him a big long speech about how the criminal life will never make him happy.
  • He then hands Montparnasse his (the old man's) wallet, telling him to take whatever he wants. Montparnasse is stunned, but he walks away with the money nonetheless. Before he can get away, though, Gavroche sneaks up behind him, snags the money, and throws it into the private garden so that Monsieur Mabeuf will have enough to pay his rent.
  • Phew. Did you get all of that?