80 pages 2 hours read

Victor Hugo

Les Miserables

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1862

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Part 3, Books 1-4Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3, Book 1 Summary: "Paris Through the Study of One of Its Atoms"

Gavroche is a "guttersnipe" (429), a poor boy who lives on the Parisian streets. Paris contains hundreds of homeless children like him, who live beneath bridges and in abandoned buildings in "Paris's limbo" (432). The narrator describes the lives of boys such as Gavroche, as well as other members of the Parisian underworld. Every type of person exists in the city as "everything that exists elsewhere exists in Paris" (437). Gavroche is not an orphan; his parents are Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, who "kicked him out" (441) and who have now moved into the dilapidated Gorbeau House where Valjean and Cosette briefly lived. In the eight or nine years since Valjean escaped to the convent, the Thénardiers' inn failed, and they moved to Paris, renaming themselves the Jondrettes. Gavroche has been banished from his family, however, so he must fend for himself on the streets. Aged 11 or 12, he begs for food and picks people's pockets. Since Gavroche has never experienced parental love, he harbors no resentment toward his own parents. An impoverished young man named Marius Pontmercy lives next door to the Thénardiers.