Les Miserables - Valjean Becomes Mayor - Audio Reading

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In this audio clip, Carole Bos reads from Les Miserables, Volume I - Book Fifth ("The Descent") - Chapter VII (entitled "Fauchelevent Becomes a Gardener in Paris"). 

Fauchelevent had dislocated his kneepan in his fall. Father Madeleine had him conveyed to an infirmary which he had established for his workmen in the factory building itself, and which was served by two sisters of charity. On the following morning the old man found a thousand-franc bank-note on his night-stand, with these words in Father Madeleine’s writing: “I purchase your horse and cart.” The cart was broken, and the horse was dead. Fauchelevent recovered, but his knee remained stiff. M. Madeleine, on the recommendation of the sisters of charity and of his priest, got the good man a place as gardener in a female convent in the Rue Saint-Antoine in Paris.

Some time afterwards, M. Madeleine was appointed mayor. The first time that Javert beheld M. Madeleine clothed in the scarf which gave him authority over the town, he felt the sort of shudder which a watch-dog might experience on smelling a wolf in his master’s clothes. From that time forth he avoided him as much as he possibly could. When the requirements of the service imperatively demanded it, and he could not do otherwise than meet the mayor, he addressed him with profound respect.

This prosperity created at M. sur M. by Father Madeleine had, besides the visible signs which we have mentioned, another symptom which was nonetheless significant for not being visible. This never deceives. When the population suffers, when work is lacking, when there is no commerce, the tax-payer resists imposts through penury, he exhausts and oversteps his respite, and the state expends a great deal of money in the charges for compelling and collection. When work is abundant, when the country is rich and happy, the taxes are paid easily and cost the state nothing. It may be said, that there is one infallible thermometer of the public misery and riches,—the cost of collecting the taxes. In the course of seven years the expense of collecting the taxes had diminished three-fourths in the arrondissement of M. sur M., and this led to this arrondissement being frequently cited from all the rest by M. de Villele, then Minister of Finance.

Such was the condition of the country when Fantine returned thither. No one remembered her. Fortunately, the door of M. Madeleine’s factory was like the face of a friend. She presented herself there, and was admitted to the women’s workroom. The trade was entirely new to Fantine; she could not be very skilful at it, and she therefore earned but little by her day’s work; but it was sufficient; the problem was solved; she was earning her living.

As you listen, or read along, consider these topics.


Father Madeleine has rescued Fauchelevent from being crushed by the horse cart, even though the old man had frequently disparaged Madeleine before the accident.   Is Victor Hugo being true-to-life when he has Madeleine go through with the rescue? 

How likely would it be, in today's world, that someone like Madeleine would have rescued someone like Fauchelevent? 

Is care and concern for others - including for those individuals who bad-mouth us behind our backs - a rare, or a common, trait in today's world? 

Madeleine also buys Fauchelevent's dead horse and broken cart.  What does that tell us about Madeleine?  What was he trying to tell Fauchelevent by those actions? 

The people of Montreuil-sur-Mer elect Father Madeleine as their mayor, soon after he rescued Fauchelevent.  Did that rescue play a role in the election?  Why, or why not?

If this type of rescue situation took place today, would voters electing government officials be more or less likely to vote for someone who had risked his own life to save another - or - would it even matter to anyone?      

Les Miserables, Volume I, Book Fifth, Chapter VII - "Fauchelevent Becomes a Gardener in Paris"

By Victor Hugo

As you listen to this chapter, you can follow along online.  See the translation by Isabella Hapgood (at Project Gutenberg), which is opened to "Fauchelevent Becomes a Gardener in Paris."


Additional dramatizations of Les Miserables:

Part 1 - Bishop Myriel Helps Jean Valjean

Part 2 - Jean Valjean, Background

Part 3 - Jean Valjean, Prison Impact

Part 4 - Meet Javert

Part 5 - Saving Fauchelevent (Javert Suspects It's Valjean)

Part 7 - Valjean Helps Fantine

Part 8 - Valjean Promises Fantine a Future

Part 9 - Valjean Rebukes Javert


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Apr 16, 2019

Media Credits

Les Miserables, Volume I, Book Fifth, Chapter VII - "Fauchlevent Becomes a Gardener in Paris" - by Victor Hugo.  Read by Carole Bos, creator of Awesome Stories.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Les Miserables - Valjean Becomes Mayor - Audio Reading" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jul 17, 2019.
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