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Les Miserables: Novel Summary: Section 5 - Book Six

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Section Five - Jean Valjean
Book Six - The White Night
A few days before the wedding Jean Valjean appears with a bandage on his right hand and claims that he has hurt his right thumb. He refuses medical treatment and Monsieur Gillenormand must sign for him on the legal papers. Marius and Cosette are married on February 16th, 1833. It is a rainy day but the two lovers hardly notice the weather. On the way to the church their carriage is held up by Mardis Gras traffic. It so happened that an older man dressed in a Spaniards costume and a young girl, who coughs and laughs in her velvet mask, pull up opposite the carriage in which Jean Valjean sits with Monsieur Fauchelevent, Marius and Cosette. The old man swears to the girl that he knows that man and orders her to discover who they are. When she protests that the task will be difficult he states that since he can't afford to be seen she, whom he calls Azelma, must try to do it for him.
The wedding comes off well and the entire party returns to the Gillenormand home for the celebration. Jean Valjean remains aloof and when the party sits for dinner the servant tells them that Monsieur Fauchelevent has returned home on account of his sore hand but will come by in the morning. Fauchelevent's absence cools the party for a moment but the inertia of the day sweeps them along and soon everyone is gay again. Monsieur Gillenormand gives a romantic speech on the importance of love and later they dance a little and laugh a lot. Jean Valjean returns to his empty apartment and lights a candle. He uses his right hand as though nothing were the matter with it. From the small valise that he has carried for so many years he pulls all the clothes that he brought to Cosette when he rescued her from the Thenardier's. The sight of the clothes brings back a flood of happy memories of the time when she had nobody else in the world but him. He begins to sob.
Jean Valjean spends the entire night wracked by his conscience. Though he knows that he has brought about Cosette's happiness he also knows that she no longer belongs to him. Like the night before the Champmathieu trial he is unable to make up his mind. He realizes that if he loses Cosette he is worse than back in prison, he is nothing. He also knows that he has no right to intrude upon her happiness and cannot now figure a way to limit his involvement so that it might not cause her harm if his identity is discovered.
The marriage has no glitches and Cosette marries under the name of Fauchelevant, the name of an extinct family. By not signing the document, Valjean has ensured the legality of the procedure.

 Les Miserables Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


 Les Miserables Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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