Les Miserables: Novel Summary: Section 4 - Book Four

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Section 4 - Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet
Book Four - Aid From Below or From Above
Though Jean Valjean and Cosette's life grows more somber they find distraction in their regular goodwill missions to take bread to the hungry and clothes to the cold. The day after the visit to the Jondrette's apartment Cosette notices a large burn wound on her father's arm but he makes light of it. The wound brings on a fever that confines him to his room for more than a month but he refuses to call a doctor. Cosette nurses him and eventually he recovers.
One evening about this time hungry little Gavroche, the singing gamin, conceives of a plan to steal an apple from Father Mabeuf's garden. Before he could leap the hedge, however, he overhears a conversation between Mabeuf's serving woman, Mother Plutarch and her employer. She tells him that they have no money and no food and Father Mabeuf admits that he has no idea what to do. She leaves and Father Mabeuf sits and sorrowfully ponders his predicament. Gavroche climbs under the hedge and without being seen sits near Father Mabeuf and waits.
Some time passes and Gavroche spots two figures coming down the lane. The first looked like an old bourgeois walking with a slow paced step. The second has the bearing of a dandy and Gavroche recognizes his acquaintance the robber Montparnasse. The robber attacks the old man but is soon brought to the ground by the man's superior strength. The old man, who is Jean Valjean, questions the younger but receives only sarcastic responses. He lectures the younger man on the perilous future that awaits him if he continues to pursue a life of crime. At the end of the lecture Valjean gives Montparnasse his purse and walks down the lane. While Montparnasse watches him, betraying no pity, Gavroche steals the purse and throws it over the hedge where it awakens Father Mabeuf.
Analysis
Gavroche listens to a conversation that Father Mabeuf is having with his servant woman about his financial problems. The boy becomes a benefactor to the priest when he steals a wallet full of money from Montparnasse, a robber from the area. As it turns out this wallet had been given to Montparnasse by Valjean in an attempt to help him become a better person.

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