Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 1

To owe life to a malefactor . . . to be, in spite of himself, on a level with a fugitive from justice . . .

to betray society in order to be true to his own conscience; that all these absurdities . . . should accumulate on himselfthis is what prostrated him.

This passage from Book Four of Jean Valjean describes Javerts state of mind before he commits suicide. We see the extent to which Valjeans mercy and compassion shatter Javerts way of life. Torn between his inflexible enforcement of the letter of the law and his personal debt to Valjean, Javert becomes profoundly confused. While Javerts response is not particularly emotional, Valjeans unconditional love for his fellow human completely disarms the stern Javert and makes it impossible for him to continue his duty with honour. Javert struggles to understand how a straightforward, literal interpretation of the law can be at odds with the spirit of the law. Seeing no alternative, he resolves his inner crisis by committing suicide. It is important to note that Javert does not kill himself out of guilt or remorse, but because to be true to his conscience would be to betray societyan option that is equally unacceptable to Javert. Hugos presentation of Javerts quandary exemplifies his tendency to blend the narrators voice with the tone of the characters that he describes. The omniscient observer is always privy to the thoughts and motivations of the novels characters, but here the narrator gets inside Javerts head and mimics his thought process. The close connection between Hugos narrative voice and the minds of his characters is accomplished by Hugos use of run-on sentences in this passage, which are written as if Javerts thoughts were unfolding in front of us.

Here, I am going to write something to show you. . . . [S]he wrote on a sheet of blank paper . . . The cops are here.

This snippet describes Eponines excitement in Book Eight of Marius as she tries to impress the student at the Gorbeau House. This incident gives us insight into the Thnardiers circumstances and the importance that Hugo placed on education and literacy. It is significant that Eponine chooses to write the phrase The cops are here as proof that she is literate, since it shows that she considers this an ordinary catchphrase; clearly, law enforcement is a regular presence in the Thnardiers lives. The great pride that Eponine takes in the fact that she can write emphasizes that most other women of Eponines social standing cannot. Throughout the novel, Hugo places great importance on literacyin a few instances, in fact, being able to read or write makes the difference between falling prey to and avoiding catastrophe. Earlier in the novel, we see illiteracy lead to Fantines exposure and subsequent loss of her job. Now, Eponines nonchalant scribbling thwarts Thnardiers ambush and saves Valjean. In both instances, Hugo turns the ability to write into more than just an educational asset, suggesting that, when we least expect it, writing can make the difference between life and death.