Structurally, the novel is divided into five volumes, each containing eight or more "books" divided into some number of chapters.
Volume I: FantineEdit
Book 1: An Upright ManEdit
Charles Myriel, a humble parish priest, is appointed bishop of Digne following a chance meeting with the Emperor Napoleon. He continues in his humble and compassionate way, donating almost all of his large salary to the poor, and living in a small house while allowing the local hospital to occupy the episcopal palace. The only luxuries he permits himself are a set of silver utensils and two silver candlesticks, which have sentimental value.
Book 2: The FallEdit
Jean Valjean is sentenced to five years of hard labor in the galleys in Toulon for breaking into a bakery and stealing a loaf of bread, a crime which he committed in order to feed his starving sister and her seven children. Given the prisoner number 24601, he ultimately serves nineteen years, having received three additional years for each of four escape attempts, and two more for resisting arrest following the second attempt. After his release, in October 1815, Valjean discovers that his yellow (ex-convict's) passport makes him a social outsider; he is able to find neither decent work nor accommodation. In Digne, he is offered a meal and a room for the night by the bishop. In the night, Valjean succumbs to the temptation to steal the bishop's silverware; the bishop saves him from the authorities by claiming that he gave the silverware to Valjean as a gift, and as a corroborating detail gives him the candlesticks as well. The bishop tells Valjean to remain an honest man henceforth. Valjean leaves the town not really knowing what to do: he left the prison with hate in his heart and wanting to revenge himself on society, which, he thinks, is responsible for all his misery. He admits that he has done wrong in stealing, but is convinced that the punishment was far too hard. And now the bishop wants him to give up his hate. Valjean is unsure if he wouldn't prefer having been arrested. In this state of mind, he encounters a young boy and steals 40 sous from him, without realising it before finding the coin under his foot. He's unable to find the boy again. His last reserves against the bishop's wishes crumble and he decides to do what he was asked. He's last seen on his knees, praying, in front of the bishop's house.
Book 3: In the Year 1817Edit
Four young working women and their student boyfriends are enjoying themselves in Paris. They are all experienced in love, accustomed to brief affairs. The exception is beautiful Fantine "the blonde", who is still an innocent naïve and loves her own suitor Felix Tholomyès with a passion. After a dinner filled with witty, frivolous conversation, the students leave, promising the girls a "surprise". Presently the girls are delivered a letter in which the students reveal that they are abandoning their girlfriends and going home. The young women are amused - "Soon loved, soon gone", they say, and burst into laughter. Fantine, however, already has had a young child with Tholomyès, and is now in a desperate situation.
Book 4: To Trust Is Sometimes to SurrenderEdit
Fantine resolves to return to her home town in Montreuil-sur-Mer. Realising that she must keep her illegitimate child a secret, she finds a couple - M. Thénardier and his wife, who run an inn in Montfermeil that Fantine passes on her journey - who are prepared to look after the girl, whose name is Cosette. Fantine finds work in a factory in Montreuil, and regularly sends money to the Thénardiers. The Thénardiers keep inventing new expenses and excuses for requesting money, all the while treating Cosette terribly, feeding and clothing her with their own children's leftovers, and making her do housework as soon as she is old enough to carry a broom.
Book 5: The DescentEdit
M. Madeleine, the owner of the factory where Fantine works, is appointed mayor of the town in recognition of his philanthropy and the prosperity he has brought the region. His past is a mystery: he came to the town one December evening in 1815 and rescued two children from a fire, and they forgot to ask him his papers in the confusion. He has since become very popular. Only the town's police inspector Javert, who was once stationed in the Toulon galleys, suspects something, especially after the mayor lifts a cart that had fallen on Fauchelevent, one of the citizens of the town. Javert has only known one person to have such strength and he was a convict in Toulon. However, Javert is unable to gather proof that will stand against a man of Madeleine's reputation. Meanwhile, Fantine's secret is discovered, and she is fired from the factory, without Madeleine knowing. Unable to pay off her debts and keep up with the Thénardiers' demands, she slides into desperate poverty, and eventually resorts to prostitution. One day, Inspector Javert finds her attacking a respectable citizen, and arrests her. Madeleine, having discovered that the citizen provoked the incident, overrules Javert to get the charges dropped, and, on learning of Fantine's plight, promises her that he will pay her debts and see to her future and Cosette's.
Book 6: JavertEdit
The mayor sends money to the Thénardiers, instructing them to send Cosette to Montreuil. The Thénardiers delay, hoping to extract more money from him. Fantine, weakened by privation, enters what the doctor says will be a final illness. For Javert, described as a man who follows the written law almost to the letter, without emotion or pleasure, the mayor's intervention on behalf of a streetwalker is the final straw. He writes a letter to the Prefecture of Police declaring his conviction that M. Madeleine is really Jean Valjean. Madeleine resolves to fetch Cosette himself, and has Fantine sign a message authorising him to collect her. His mission is forestalled when Javert receives a reply to his letter - which says that M. Madeleine can not be Jean Valjean, as Jean Valjean has recently been recaptured. Unable to forgive himself a mistake he has made only because he was infuriated against the mayor, confesses his error to Madeleine, asking to be fired. Madeleine makes him tell the story in every detail, but refuses Javert's demand.
Book 7: The Champmathieu AffairEdit
At last, Madeleine's identity is revealed. He is in fact Jean Valjean, as the reader suspects since he first appeared. The real Valjean is now faced with a moral dilemma: Should he remain M. Madeleine and let an innocent man go to prison, burying his past as Jean Valjean forever, or should he save an innocent man by denouncing himself as the wanted man the police are seeking? This keeps him awake all night. Valjean's conscience makes him go to Arras, where the trial is to be held, without having decided what to do. When he sees that the court intends to find the innocent Champmathieu guilty, he publicly admits that he is the real Jean Valjean. In the confusion caused by the revelation of his identity, he is able to depart unhindered, and returns to Montreuil. The false Valjean, Champmathieu, is released.
Book 8: Counter-StrokeEdit
Valjean goes to see Fantine in the hospital, and promises her he will look after Cosette. Javert arrives with the order to arrest Valjean. Fantine, in delirium, thinks it's her he wants to arrest and asks "Madeleine" for protection. Valjean asks three days to fetch her child. Javert, unnerved by the two, shouts the truth out to Fantine. She apparently dies from shock. Valjean closes her eyes and renews his promises, before letting Javert arrest him. The same evening, he breaks out of the jail, makes a few final arrangements, including arranging for Fantine's funeral, and leaves town.
Volume II: CosetteEdit
Book 1: WaterlooEdit
A flashback to 1815, and the Battle of Waterloo. In the aftermath of the battle, a looter discovers a still-living body buried amid a pile of corpses. He helps the survivor out from the crushing pile (and the survivor's valuables out from their owner's pockets). The soldier is a colonel by the name of Pontmercy; his rescuer, when asked, claims to be a sergeant and gives his name as Thénardier.
Book 2: The Ship OrionEdit
Jean Valjean is recaptured after only a few days - which is, however, sufficient for him to visit his bank in Paris, withdraw all his money (over six hundred thousand francs), and hide it in a forest near Montfermeil. He is first sentenced to death, but later his sentence is changed to hard labor for life. He is sent to the galleys in Toulon, where he is reported drowned about four months later, after having saved the life of a sailor who was about to fall from a yard.
Book 3: Fulfillment of the Promise Made to the DepartureEdit
Little Cosette, by now eight years old, is sent out to the forest by Madame Thénardier to fetch water on Christmas Eve. She is alone and afraid in the dark, when a man helps her carrying her bucket home. He takes lodging in the Thénardiers' inn, not taking his eyes from Cosette. He spares her a few punishments from Madame Thénardier, pays five francs so that she needn't work and even buys her a magnificent doll. The next morning, he persuades the Thénardiers to let Cosette leave with him and pays 1500 francs for this. A belated attempt by Thénardier to obtain more money by hinting that he suspects something is wrong comes to nothing after the man produces the letter of authorisation signed by Fantine. The man is, of course, Jean Valjean. He hasn't drowned, but managed to dive under the ship and escape. He takes Cosette to Paris.
Book 4: The Old Gorbeau HouseEdit
Valjean and Cosette live together in an out-of-the-way apartment in a poor part of Paris, and are happy. However, Valjean's manner of living - he dresses and lives poorly, but gives money to every beggar he meets, and is seen by his landlady with an extraordinary amount of money - causes gossip, which by and by comes to the ear of Inspector Javert, who is now stationed in Paris. Javert comes to investigate. Javert sees Valjean, but is unsure that it's Valjean (who, after all, is supposed to be dead); Valjean sees Javert, but convinces himself he was mistaken. Javert visits the Gorbeau tenement in the hope of getting a better look at his quarry; he fails, but his quarry gets another look at him, and decides that it is time to move on.
Book 5: A Dark Chase Requires a Silent HoundEdit
Valjean and Cosette leave their apartment after nightfall, and are tailed by watchers set by Javert. During the pursuit Valjean becomes sure that his pursuer is his old adversary Javert, and Javert that his quarry is his old and presumed-dead adversary Valjean. Eventually, Valjean and Cosette are pinned down in a blind alley, but while Javert goes to fetch reinforcements, Valjean manages to transport himself and Cosette over a wall; Javert is unable to determine which wall, and calls the pursuit off. Valjean and Cosette find themselves in the back garden of a convent - where, by chance, the gardener is Fauchelevent, the man whom Valjean-as-M.-Madeleine saved from being crushed by a cart in Montreuil-sur-Mer.
Book 6: Petit-PicpusEdit
A history of the convent in the Rue Petit-Picpus, and of the associated boarding school.
Book 7: A ParenthesisEdit
An essay on religious communities in general.
Book 8: Cemeteries Take Which Is Given ThemEdit
Fauchelevant obtains a position as assistant gardener for his "brother", and a place in the boarding school for his "niece". The trouble is that in order to take their new places, Valjean and Cosette must enter the convent - which means first departing the convent without anyone but Fauchelevant knowing that they were there already. Cosette is small enough to smuggle easily, but Valjean is more difficult, especially with Javert's men still watching the area. The day after Valjean's arrival, one of the nuns dies, and is interred in the vault under the convent's chapel, in accordance with her last wishes but in defiance of a secular regulation requiring the dead to be buried in an official cemetery; to satisfy the regulation, a second coffin officially containing the nun's mortal remains but in fact only containing ballast is to be buried in the cemetery. In the event, the ballast is Jean Valjean; when the funeral is done, Fauchelevant distracts the gravedigger and extricates Valjean. "Ultime Fauchelevant" and his "daughter" take their places at the convent. Years pass; Cosette grows up.
Volume III: MariusEdit
Book 1: Paris AtomizedEdit
An account of the Parisian street child, and in particular of one called "Little Gavroche", who is not an orphan but lives on the streets in preference to the neglect and hostility he suffers at home. His parents, and his two sisters (on whom his mother dotes), are among those who have come to live in the Gorbeau tenement in the years since the departure of Jean Valjean.
Book 2: The Grand BourgeoisEdit
An account of M. Gillenormand, a proud and lively old man who had been a fixture of Paris society well into his eighties. His younger daughter, disregarding his low opinion of the Revolution and its consequences, had married Georges Pontmercy, a soldier in the service of the Republic and the Empire who was made a colonel and a baron by Napoleon at Waterloo; she died giving birth to a son, Marius, who was claimed and raised by his grandfather.
Book 3: The Grandfather and the GrandsonEdit
Marius Pontmercy, now a young man, thinks little of his father, by whom he feels abandoned. This changes when, some time after his father's death, he happens to meet M. Mabeuf, a church warden and friend of his father's, who reveals that M. Gillenormand had threatened to disinherit Marius if his father did not leave and promise to have nothing further to do with the family. Marius sets out to find out all he can about his father, whom he grows to admire greatly. He resolves to honour the two duties with which his father had charged him in a letter written on his death-bed: first, to carry on and be worthy of the title of Baron Pontmercy (the title, like the promotion to colonel, had been disallowed following Napoleon's downfall, but Marius' father had continued to lay claim to both, feeling that he had earned them); second, to repay, should the opportunity ever present itself, the debt owed to that Sergeant Thénardier who had saved Colonel Pontmercy's life at Waterloo. As Marius' respect for his father grows, so too does his resentment toward his grandfather. Things come to a head in a blazing row, which ends with M. Gillenormand ordering his grandson to leave the house forthwith.
Book 4: The Friends of the ABCEdit
Marius, on quitting his grandfather's house, meets a fellow-student who did him a favour once and now does him another, finding him accommodation with a friend. Through these two new friends, Bossuet and Courfeyrac, Marius falls in with a group of students, led by one named Enjolras, who aspire to better the lot of the common man -- they call themselves the Friends of the ABC (in French, ABC is pronounced nearly as abaissé, the abased). Without his grandfather's support, Marius quickly runs short of money; although his grandfather soon unbends so far as to offer him (through an intermediary) a living allowance, Marius refuses it, claiming that he is doing fine on his own.
Book 5: The Excellence of MisfortuneEdit
Marius moves to cheaper lodgings, and takes up a clerical job found for him by Courfeyrac. He completes his law-school studies and qualifies as a lawyer, but continues in his clerical work, having come to feel that he would rather be poor than accept the limits and compromises of the legal profession. He comes to feel that the courage with which he accepts his condition is his opportunity to prove himself worthy of his father's title, as his father proved himself worthy by the courage with which he faced battle. Marius finds new ways of saving money, and moves to even cheaper lodgings in the Gorbeau tenement, in the flat next to the Jondrettes, Little Gavroche's family. He associates with few people, only sometimes Courfeyrac and his friends, and sometimes M. Mabeuf, who has himself fallen on hard times.
Book 6: The Conjunction of Two StarsEdit
Marius, on one of his habitual walks in the Luxembourg Garden, sees and falls in love with a girl who is there with her father. He goes more often to the Luxembourg in hope of seeing her, and even follows her home, but can not summon the courage to talk to her. His attentions do not go unnoticed by her father. After a time, the girl and her father stop coming to the Luxembourg; on making enquiries at the house where they had been living, Marius is informed that they have moved, leaving no forwarding address.
Book 7: Patron-MinetteEdit
An account of the Parisian criminal underworld at this point in its existence, and of a particular organisation known as "Patron-Minette".
Book 8: The Noxious PoorEdit
A chance encounter with Eponine and Azelma, the daughters of the family next door, leads Marius to become aware of the family's miserable condition; they live together in a single room, with no visible income; M. Jondrette is reduced to writing carefully calculated begging letters to rich philanthropists. One of these philanthropists comes to see the Jondrettes' plight for himself, and to Marius' delighted surprise, it is the father of the girl from the Luxembourg. To Jondrette's angered surprise, it is Jean Valjean. Valjean has little money on him, but promises to return in the evening with more. Marius overhears Jondrette plotting with associates of Patron-Minette to ambush Valjean, and - since he can't warn Valjean directly because he still doesn't know his name or address - goes to the police. The case is taken by Inspector Javert, who decides that the best course is to wait and catch the felons in the act; Marius is deputed to watch the action from his own room (the wall he shares with the Jondrettes is thin, and has a hole in it through lack of maintenance) and to signal with a pistol-shot at the appropriate moment. When Valjean returns, Jondrette reveals the cause of his anger: he is, in fact, not Jondrette but Thénardier, and he's still angry about losing his cash-cow Cosette all those years ago. This revelation puts Marius in an impossible position: delivering his father's saviour to the police is no way to go about repaying the debt. Valjean, on the other hand, never loses his cool, and calmly bluffs his way through the situation until the police arrive on the scene (Javert having decided the time was ripe, signal or no signal). Thénardier and his cronies are arrested; Valjean escapes before Javert has an opportunity to recognise him.
Volume IV: The Idyll of the Rue Plumet and the Epic of the Rue Saint DenisEdit
Book 1: A Few Pages of HistoryEdit
An account of the July Revolution of 1830 and its consequences. By 1832, there are rumblings of disaffection among the lower classes, who feel that their lot is not much improved. Insurrection is in the air. Among those involved are Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC.
Book 2: EponineEdit
Marius moves out of the Gorbeau tenement and goes back to living with Courfeyrac. He manages to avoid being called on to testify against Thénardier, who nonetheless goes to prison; Marius sends him money there anonymously. Meanwhile, Eponine is recruited by one of her father's criminal associates to scout out an isolated house on the Rue Plumet with an eye to its prospects for burglary. On doing so, she discovers that it is the home of Valjean and Cosette. Eponine, who has herself fallen in love with Marius, reports that the house is no good and then tracks down Marius and gives him the address. Marius, unaware that she has already chosen to shield the house's occupants from her father and his associates, makes her promise not to tell them about it.
Book 3: The House on the Rue PlumetEdit
An account of the house in the Rue Plumet, and of its occupants: Following the completion of Cosette's schooling and the death of Valjean's "brother" Fauchelevant, Valjean and Cosette left the convent and took up residence in the Rue Plumet. Valjean also rented a number of other properties around the city, so as to always have a safe place nearby. Cosette grew up to be strikingly beautiful. On one of their habitual visits to the Luxembourg Garden, Cosette saw and fell in love with Marius. Valjean, wary of attracting anybody's attention and selfishly afraid of losing Cosette, stopped taking her to the Luxembourg, and, when he became aware that Marius has discovered their address - they were at that point staying at one of his other properties - let the house go and returned with Cosette to the Rue Plumet. That was the last Cosette saw of Marius for the time being; but she did not forget him. Valjean realises the changes in Cosette, but is only able to try and distract her. One of their favourite pastimes are walks outside of Paris. On one of these walks, they see the chain gang departing from Paris bound for the Toulon galleys. Valjean is unable to answer any of Cosette's questions on the subject, he only hears her saying, that she was so afraid, that if ever she would encounter one of the convicts on her way, she'd die of fright.
Book 4: Aid from Below or from AboveEdit
Little Gavroche, strolling through the outskirts of Paris, passes the home of M. Mabeuf and overhears M. Mabeuf's housekeeper remonstrating with him about his situation: M. Mabeuf is now gravely behind in his rent, his food bills, and (although she is too kind to mention it) his housekeeper's wages; but, having no money, he faces the situation with resignation. Shortly afterwards, Gavroche watches as Montparnasse, an acquaintance who at nineteen is already a ringleader of the Patron-Minette gang, attempts to mug an old man who is out for a walk. The old man, who appears to be Jean Valjean (it is strongly hinted, but not directly said), quickly gains the upper hand, but gives Montparnasse his purse anyway, along with a lecture on the bad end he is likely to come to if he continues along his current path. Gavroche picks Montparnasse's pocket and leaves the old man's purse in M. Mabeuf's garden as an anonymous gift.
Book 5: An End Unlike the BeginningEdit
As time passes, Cosette begins to feel that she is getting over Marius. Then, one evening, she goes for a walk in the garden, and sees signs that somebody else is there; on investigating further the following morning, she finds a message from Marius. In the evening, she goes for another walk in the garden, and Marius himself appears; he has been hanging around for a while, again trying to summon the courage to talk to her. This time he succeeds, and Cosette realises that she loves him as much as ever.
Book 6: Little GavrocheEdit
Little Gavroche happens upon two small children wandering lost in the streets, alone in the world after their mother and all her acquaintances were pinched in a police raid. He shares his meagre meal with them, and invites them to share his current place of accommodation, which is in the Place de la Bastille, in the hollow interior of a neglected monument. In the night, Thénardier and his associates break out of prison, but Thénardier becomes stranded on a rooftop when their rope breaks. Somebody small and nimble is required to carry a new rope up to him, and Montparnasse, who has been assisting, thinks of calling on Gavroche. Gavroche obliges, as one scoundrel to another - his relationship with his father being one of indifference on both sides - and Thénardier is rescued. The villains consult about what use to make of their freedom, and, having heard about the house on the Rue Plumet, resolve to have a look at it for themselves.
Book 7: ArgotEdit
Book 8: Enchantments and DesolationsEdit
Cosette and Marius continue to meet in the garden each evening, without Jean Valjean knowing. Jean Valjean sees Thénardier prowling the neighbourhood, and, taking this into consideration with the increasing unrest in city, begins to consider moving away. On the 3rd of June, 1832, two important things happen: in the morning, Jean Valjean tells Cosette to begin preparing to leave Paris; and in the evening, while Cosette is breaking the news to Marius, Thénardier and his associates come to rob the house. The robbers are intercepted by Eponine, who unbeknownst to the two lovebirds has been keeping watch; after failing to convince them that the house is not worth their efforts, Eponine drives them away by threatening to scream and attract the police. Not a hint of this disturbs Cosette and Marius, who are busy considering their forthcoming separation; Marius has no money with which to travel after Cosette and her father. Marius comes to a decision, and tells Cosette not to expect him on the following evening, as he will be calling on somebody who might help. The prospect of losing Cosette has done for Marius what four years of mere financial hardship could not: he goes to his grandfather. M. Gillenormand is delighted by the chance to reconcile with his beloved grandson, but, old ladies' man that he is, is unable to comprehend the sincerity of Marius' feelings for Cosette; he makes light of the situation, advising Marius to make Cosette his lover instead of his wife, and Marius angrily departs, declaring his intention never to return.
Book 9: Where Are They Going?Edit
Eponine slips Jean Valjean an anonymous message warning him to move away from the house in the Rue Plumet. This, on top of the various signs he has noticed that someone has been surreptitiously entering the garden, prompts him to move up the planned date of departure. When, on the evening of the 5th, Marius goes to see Cosette again, he finds the house deserted. Having thus lost his grandfather and the woman he loves in the space of twenty-four hours, Marius is plunged into despair. While he is thus despairing, Eponine arrives with a message from Enjolras and his friends: The revolution has begun - will he join them?
Book 10: June 5, 1832Edit
An essay on armed insurrection, beginning with the general and moving in on the particular case of the insurrection that followed the funeral on the 5th of June, 1832, of General Lamarque, who had been much loved by the people.
Book 11: The Atom Fraternizes with the HurricaneEdit
Little Gavroche joins the riots, brandishing an inoperative old pistol looted from a bric-a-brac shop, and hooks up with the Friends of the ABC, who now head a group of fifty. Others who join the group include old M. Mabeuf, who has reached the very end of his resources and has nothing left to live for; Eponine Thénardier, who had been hoping to find Marius; and an undercover Javert.
Book 12: CorinthEdit
Enjolras and his group decide to site their barricade near the intersection of the Rue de la Chanvrerie and the Rue Saint Denis - and, not entirely coincidentally, near the Corinthe, a tavern with which the students have a long acquaintance. They occupy the tavern, and set to work building the barricade. Javert is unmasked by Gavroche, and imprisoned in the tavern. When the time approaches that Eponine knows Marius will be going to meet Cosette, she goes to tell him what is going on, then returns to the barricade.
Book 13: Marius Enters the ShadowEdit
Marius, feeling that without Cosette he has nothing left to live for, goes to join Enjolras' group at the barricade.
Book 14: The Grandeur of DespairEdit
Soldiers arrive and attack the barricade. M. Mabeuf is the first casualty. A group of soldiers penetrates the barricade. Marius arrives on the scene in the nick of time and saves Gavroche from one of the soldiers. Eponine saves Marius' life by taking a bullet for him. Marius threatens to blow up the revolutionaries' ammunition store, though this would mean his own death as well, and the soldiers fall back. Eponine gives Marius a message from Cosette, which she had been withholding from jealousy, and dies in Marius' arms. Cosette's message explains that her father had suddenly decided to spend their last days in Paris at another of his houses, and gives the address, in the Rue de l'Homme Arme. Marius concludes that, since his grandfather was no help, their love is still doomed anyway, but at least now he can send her a message of farewell. He writes the message and, after the soldiers leave off for the night, sends Gavroche to deliver it, hoping thereby to get Gavroche away and save him from the fighting.
Book 15: The Rue de l'Homme-ArméEdit
Gavroche takes Marius' note to Cosette's house, but, eager to be back at the barricade, lets Jean Valjean take it instead of insisting on delivering it to Cosette in person. Valjean reads the note himself, and sets out to save Marius, for Cosette's sake. To pass unchallenged through the soldiers' blockade, he dresses in the uniform of the National Guard, of which he is in the reserve.
Volume V: Jean ValjeanEdit
Book 1: War Between Four WallsEdit
Dawn approaches, and soldiers prepare a renewed attack on the barricade. It has become clear that the Parisian masses are not going to rise up and join the revolution; the revolutionaries resolve to fight on regardless, as an example, but Enjolras orders that any with families to support or loved ones who will miss them should leave before it's too late. With uniforms taken from soldiers who were killed attacking the barricade, and Jean Valjean's uniform, five men are able to disguise themselves and escape. Marius, feeling himself alone in the world, remains, and so perforce does Jean Valjean. Valjean, thanks to his infallible aim with a rifle, makes himself useful at the barricade, without killing anybody. The soldiers resume their attack, now with cannon, but the barricade holds. When the revolutionaries begin to worry about running low on ammunition, Gavroche sneaks out of the barricade to loot the ammunition-pouches of the fallen soldiers, and is killed. (The narrator takes a moment to check in on the two youngsters Gavroche had looked after, now living lives modelled on his in the streets of the city; it is thus demonstrated that for every street child who falls, two more appear.) Around noon, the tide begins to turn in favour of the attackers, and the revolutionaries prepare for the final assault. Enjolras decides that the time has come to execute the police spy, as they are now beyond the point where one bullet might make a difference; Valjean volunteers for the job, and, taking Javert to the alley behind the tavern... releases him, to Javert's astonishment. He fires a shot into the air, and returns to the barricade, leaving the revolutionaries (including Marius) to believe that Javert is now dead. During the final onslaught, all the revolutionaries are killed, except for Marius, who is severely wounded. Valjean escapes with the unconscious Marius through the sewers.
Book 2: The Intestine Of The LeviathanEdit
An essay on the history and layout of the sewers of Paris.
Book 3: Mud, But SoulEdit
Valjean successfully navigates the hazards of the sewer to reach a distant exit, but it is covered by a locked grating. Here he encounters Thénardier, who has a key to the grating and is hiding in the sewer to avoid a policeman who was tailing him; not recognising either Valjean or Marius in the poor light, Thénardier takes Valjean for a murderer trying to dispose of a body, and offers to let him through the grating, hoping thereby to distract the policeman, who is still in the area. To avoid suspicion at this generosity, Thénardier claims a share of the corpse's possessions, and, while searching Marius' pockets, he secretly tears a strip off his coat, in hopes of turning a profit at some future point by identifying the victim and his murderer. That done, he opens the grating and lets Valjean exit the sewer, whereupon Valjean is promptly arrested by the policeman - it is Inspector Javert. Valjean submits to Javert's authority, but persuades him first to take Marius home to his grandfather and then to let Valjean say a last goodbye to Cosette. Javert stops outside Valjean's house while he says goodbye, and when Valjean emerges, Javert is gone.
Book 4: Javert Off the TrackEdit
Javert is disturbed: Valjean's noble behaviour challenges his convictions about the degradation of all who transgress against the law, and his own instinctive reaction to it mocks his convictions about the correct attitude toward transgressors. Javert knows that Valjean is not innocent, but knows that he is good and to arrest Valjean would debase the moral authority of the law. Unable to reconcile his duty as an officer of the Law - always, until now, his highest duty in his own eyes - with his debt of honour to the man who saved his life at the barricade, he commits suicide by throwing himself in the Seine River.
Book 5: Grandson and GrandfatherEdit
Marius gradually recovers from his injuries, and is reconciled with his grandfather and reunited with Cosette. Jean Valjean retrieves the remainder of his fortune from its hiding place and bestows it upon Cosette. Marius attempts to locate the man who saved his life, but fails: nobody at the house got a good look at the man, while Marius was unconscious for the important bit and due to the extent of his injuries remembers only vaguely the events preceding it; Jean Valjean, for his part, does his best to prevent Marius' suspicions fixing on himself.
Book 6: The White NightEdit
Cosette and Marius are married on the 16th of February, 1833. Jean Valjean fakes a hand injury to avoid signing anything that might be disallowed if his past comes out, and to avoid taking a prominent part in the wedding; at the church, M. Gillenormand escorts the bride. After the ceremony, the wedding party returns to M. Gillenormand's house for a banquet; Valjean leaves early, again blaming his hand injury, and spends the night solitarily considering his future.
Book 7: The Last Drop in the ChaliceEdit
Jean Valjean concludes that he should not intrude himself upon Cosette and Marius' life together, for fear that their happiness would be ruined if his past should catch up with him and because he feels that, as a fugitive from the law and not even Cosette's relative, he has no place in their future. On the day following the wedding, he informs Marius of his decision and his reasons, revealing that he is an ex-convict. Marius is astonished and horrified - Valjean says nothing in his own favour, save only to assure Marius that the fortune he bestowed on Cosette was legally come by, and even then implying that it was Cosette's money all along - and accepts Valjean's decision.
Book 8: The Twilight WaneEdit
Jean Valjean turns down Cosette's invitation to live with her and Marius, and although he visits regularly, he insists on being treated merely as an acquaintance, not as a father, even making Cosette call him "Monsieur Jean". Cosette is hurt and confused by his behaviour, but neither he nor Marius will explain, as neither is prepared to burden her with the knowledge of her "father's" past. Gradually, Cosette becomes accustomed to the new situation. Jean Valjean, faced with Marius' continuing disapproval (he doesn't touch the money, not believing, that it really is honest money; he doesn't light a fire or put chairs in the room where Cosette and Valjean meet), visits less regularly and finally ceases to visit at all.
Book 9: Supreme Shadow, Supreme DawnEdit
Jean Valjean goes into a decline, never leaving his lodgings and ceasing to eat. Meanwhile, Thénardier, finding Paris too hot for him, decides to emigrate to America in search of new opportunities. Drawing on the research he has done since seeing and recognising Jean Valjean in a passing wedding cavalcade in February, he comes to see Marius, hoping to extort money out of him by revealing his father-in-law's past. He succeeds only in rehabilitating Marius' opinion of Jean Valjean. Marius had tried to find out more about Valjean's past, and thinks that Valjean has murdered Madeleine to steal his fortune; he also still believes that Valjean killed Javert. Thénardier manages to prove the contrary: that Valjean was Madeleine and that Javert drowned himself. But Thénardier thinks that Valjean killed a man, that he saw the victim, and to prove it hands Marius the piece of his coat. It is in fact the missing bit of the coat, as Marius quickly checks. Marius realises, that it was Valjean who saved him, and also that he did in fact not commit any greater crime than to steal a loaf of bread. Marius gives Thénardier twenty thousand francs on condition that he leave the country and never return (which condition is subsequently fulfilled). As soon as Thénardier is out of the house, Marius takes Cosette and makes haste to Jean Valjean's lodging to bring him home. But they are almost too late; there is time only for a brief joyful reunion, and then Jean Valjean dies. The last chapter describes an unmarked grave in the Père Lachaise graveyard. Only four lines have once been written on it, but the rain has washed them away.