Les Miserables: Novel Summary: Section 4 - Book Eight

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Section 4 - Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet
Book Eight - Enchantments and Desolations
Throughout May of 1832 Marius comes to visit Cosette in the garden. Though they never repeat the kiss and neither conceives of anything but a chaste love, their meetings solidify their intense feelings for one another. They exchange many tender remarks and laugh often. Toussaint and Jean Valjean suspect nothing. On the second of June Marius encounters Eponine in the street and he is at first cold to her. She begins to ask a question but then breaks off the conversation and suddenly leaves.
The next day she follows him and watches him enter the garden. She sits on a stone nearby to watch for him to exit. While she waits she sees her father and the gang of robbers approach the gate. She quickly steps in front of them and tries to persuade them not to enter the house. Her father shows her no affection and insists that the robbers will try their luck. She blocks their way and threatens to scream if they attempt to pass. In a dry, coughing voice she declares that she doesn't care whether she dies that night by the hand of her own father or a year later in a ditch from the cold. The men hold counsel and decide that she is in earnest. They leave to spend the night hiding in the sewer to which Thenardier has a key. Eponine secretly follows them to make sure they do not return.
Meanwhile Cosette has tearfully told Marius that her father has told her that because of his business she should be ready to leave Paris and move to England within the week. Marius indicates to her that if she leaves he will die. She suggests that he travels to England as well but he explains that his poverty prevents it. He forms a desperate plan and tells Cosette not to expect him the following night but the next. She assents and he scratches his address on the wall in case something happens she might send word.
The next evening Marius visits his grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand, who was then ninety-one years old and whose health has begun to fail. Though he outwardly maintains his displeasure with his grandson, inwardly he realizes that he dearly loves Marius and despairs that he might never see him again. The surprised old man receives Marius alone in his study and asks if his grandson has come to ask his pardon. Marius understands that he is being asked to denounce his father and he answers in the negative. The old man demands to know what Marius wants and the latter asks for pity. This causes the older man to rise from his chair and harangue the younger man. Marius promises to leave as soon as he has made his request. When Marius asks for permission to marry [because he is not twenty-five he must have his guardian's permission] the old man asks how he will support himself. When he learns that there is no dowry he refuses to give permission and Marius, in a fit of passion cries out "Father!" This word softens the old man a little and he draws Marius back into the room and asks for details. Marius tells him everything and when the old man learns where the object of his affections lives he says that he knows of the girl because Marius' cousin Theodule has claimed to have courted the same girl. He makes light of Marius' love and offers him money to show the girl a good time. He suggests that marrying her would be a mistake. Marius is shocked but the old man does not perceive this and says bluntly: "Make her your mistress." Deeply offended Marius declares that he shall never return and storms out of the room. Grief stricken, the old man calls for help and pleads for Marius' return but his grandson is already far away.
Analysis
Eponine self-sacrificing behavior is amazing considering her upbringing in an indifferent and selfish environment. She helps Marius find Cosette even though she is in love with him and protects Valjean's house when she stops Thenardier from breaking into the house.
It is unfortunate that Marius' grandfather is incapable of showing his true emotions to his grandson and that he misconstrues Marius' intentions towards Cosette. By maintaining an upper-class attitude towards the poorer lower-class and suggesting that Marius should take Cosette as his mistress and not as his wife, he alienates his grandson even further and the rift between the two becomes even wider.

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