Les Miserables: Novel Summary: Section 3 - Book Six
Section 3 - Marius
Book Six - The Conjunction of Two Stars
This book begins with the observation that Marius had grown into a good-looking young man whose appearance at times achieved a sublime grace. Young girls would turn to watch him when he passed and though they actually dreamed about him, Marius believed that they were mocking his worn clothes. He avoided all female companionship.
Marius was fond of taking long walks and often walked in the Luxembourg. He noticed that a man and young girl of about fourteen often sat on a bench at the far end of the path. The man, whom Marius assumed was the girl's father, had white hair and dressed in coarse but clean clothing. The young girl wore an ill-fitting dress of black merino, typical of those worn by schoolgirls in convents. Courfeyrac who also noticed them nicknamed them Mademoiselle Lanoire (black) and Monsieur Leblanc (white). For a period of about six months Marius does not visit the Luxembourg and when he returns he notices that the girl has blossomed into a woman in her fifteenth year. Marius, without quite realizing what is happening, is smitten by her. He gets into the habit of only wearing his good suit for his walks in the Luxembourg and finds himself unable to walk near the girl. He spends hours gazing at her from afar and becomes increasingly distracted.
One day Marius excitedly notices that the pair was approaching him. As they pass he sees that the young girl is looking steadily, almost reproachfully at him. He falls completely in love with her. A month passes during which time he spends every afternoon at the park in various strategically chosen locations that allow him to watch the girl without seeing the father. Eventually the father notices the young man's intentions and he tests Marius by moving to another seat to see if Marius would follow and coming without the girl to see if Marius would stay. Marius fell for both traps.
On another occasion, he found a handkerchief marked with the initials "U.F." He believes it is the girl's who had left it for him. He cherished it and tried to puzzle out her name which he takes to be Ursula. The handkerchief actually belongs to the old man who accidentally dropped it and the young girl fails to understand why the young man bestows kisses upon a handkerchief while looking at her. They continue to see each other at the garden and one day Marius follows them home. He talks to the porter and learns that they live on the third floor and that the man, though not rich, does a great deal for the poor. Soon afterward Marius noticed that the man casts a severe look at him and then he and the girl fail to appear at the garden. Eventually Marius goes back to their house and learns that they have moved and left no forwarding address.
The title of this book refers to Marius and Cosette who are attracted to each other. Both are very young and immature in the art of flirting and do not know how to mask their feelings. It is almost comical to see Marius trying to arouse Cosette's emotions by kissing a handkerchief which doesn't even belong to her.