Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bravo, little Gavroche. You're the top of the class!

"This child was pale, thin, dressed in rags, with tow trousers in the month of February, and was singing with all his might." 
~Les Miserables, volume 3: "Marius," book 8: "The Noxious Poor", chapter 22: "The Little Boy Who Cried In Part Second." 
(Ha.  The citation was longer than the quote itself. Therefore, that was the last of my citations.  You know the quotes all come from the book, right? If you really want to know where a certain quote comes from, contact me and I'll look it up for you.)

Such is our introduction to Gavroche Thenardier, the ragged little gamin who stole my heart from his first appearance on the pages of Les Miserables.  Until that moment, I'd been feeling a bit depressed with my reading of the massive book.  Jean Valjean's death-defying escapes were over for the present (indeed, Valjean hadn't appeared much for some time), Fantine (a character I'd liked) was dead, and the book was mainly dealing with a lovestruck law student who was mooning around watching chickens on a manure heap and dreaming about some girl he'd seen in the park.  Thus far, I hadn't found a truly likable character of whom I could sit up and take notice, someone who would make me smile when he/she appeared and feel annoyed when the narrative droned on without him/her.  
And then in bounced Gavroche.  And I sat up and took notice.

For the next couple of books, I followed Gavroche's story with intense interest, with bated breath at times because after all, I didn't know how the story was going to end.  And then I came to this line.  "Courfeyrac suddenly perceived somebody at the foot of the barricade, outside in the street, under the balls."  That was when I sat bolt upright, clutching the book closer and closer to my face, willing Gavroche to be okay as he skipped about in the street dodging the grapeshot.  And then, well... *sob*  Control yourself, Amy, it's JUST A STORY.

Moving on.  Gavroche was, hands-down, my favorite character in my first reading of the novel (and I might add that I read a slightly truncated version of the Charles E. Wilbour translation, which left out the blah-de-blah-ing about the Battle of Waterloo and the Paris sewers) and is still one of my favorite characters in the story.  He's probably the most quotable person in the whole novel, and I'm going to stop rambling now and just let you see for yourself.  All quotes are by Gavroche (obviously) and come either from the musical or the book, and I've indicated which below.  {I've also occasionally added my own comments in brackets like this.}


The child knocked against [and old crone] as he passed, then drew back, exclaiming, "Why! I took that for an enormous, enormous dog!" He pronounced the word enormous the second time with a pompous and sneering voice which capitals would express very well: an enormous, ENORMOUS dog!

A girl, seeing them all three marching in a row, Gavroche at the head, broke into a loud laugh.  This laugh was lacking in respect for the group.  "Good day, Mamselle Omnibus," said Gavroche to her. {It was here that I really began to appreciate Gavroche's humor-- a thing sadly lacking in the latter half of Les Miz!}

... he splashed the boots of a passer with mud.
"Whelp!" cried the man, furious.
Gavroche lifted his nose above his shawl.  "Monsieur complains?"
"Of you!" said the passer.
"The bureau is closed," said Gavroche.  "I receive no more complaints."

"That inspector thinks he's something, but it's me who runs this town.  And my theater never closes and the curtain's never down.  Trust Gavroche.  Have no fear.  You can always find me here."

Meanwhile Montparnasse had become thoughtful.  "You recognized me very easily," he murmured.  He took from his pocket two little objects which were nothing but two quills wrapped in cotton and introduced one into each nostril.  This gave him a new nose.
"That changes you," said Gavroche, "you are not so ugly; you ought to keep so all the time."
Montparnasse was a handsome fellow, but Gavroche was a scoffer. {Do tell!}

"We get over the walls and we make fun of the government.  That's all."

"Listen! Listen to me! LISTEN, EVERYBODY! ... General Lamarque is dead."

"Little folks are good for something then! that is very lucky! I will go!  Meantime, trust the little folks, distrust the big-- you see that big fellow there?  He is a spy."

"Good evenin', dear Inspector, lovely evening my dear. I know this man, my friends, his name's Inspector Javert! So don't believe a word he says, 'cause none of it's true.  This only goes to show what little people can do."

"I want the big musket," answered Gavroche.
And he took Javert's musket.

Gavroche had an idea which decided him, but which he did not tell, for fear Marius would make some objection to it.  The idea was this: "It is hardly midnight, the Rue de l'Homme Arne is not far, I will carry the letter right away and I shall get back in time."  {The enormity of this will not be clear unless you realize that Marius sent Gavroche out of the barricade with a letter for Cosette telling him not to return until after it's all over.}

"Small boy," said [Valjean], "what is the matter with you?"
"The matter is that I am hungry," said Gavroche tartly.  Then he added, "Small boy yourself!"

"You talk genteelly.  Really, nobody would guess your age.  You ought to sell all your hairs at a hundred francs apiece.  That would make you five hundred francs." {this is probably my favorite Gavroche quote ever}

The sergeant crossed his bayonet.  "Will you tell me where you are going, at last, wretch?" 
"My general," said Gavroche, "I am going after the doctor for my wife, who is put to bed."

The gun went off; the detonation burst upon them.  "Present!" cried a cheerful voice. And at the same time with the ball, Gavroche tumbled into the barricade.

{Gavroche gives a long and detailed report on the strength of the foe.}  This information given, Gavroche added, "I authorise you to give them a dose of pills."

"You need somebody quicker and I volunteer!"
"No, no, Gavroche, don't you dare! Someone pull him down at once!"
"Look at me! I'm almost there!"

"And little people know, when little people fight--we may look easy pickings, but we've got some fight. So never kick a dog because he's just a pup.  We'll fight like twenty armies and we won't give up! So you better run for cover when the pup grows up!"


Anonymous said...

I laughed... I cried...

GREAT post, Amy!

Yes, Gavroche is one of my favorite characters in Les Miserables, and after reading all that... I might even have to say the entire musical. He and Valjean are dueling it out with big muskets for top place.

I think Gavroche is going to win.

Now, pardon me while I go find a free ebook of the novel for my sister's Kindle. (They're good for *something*...)


Miss Dashwood said...

Of course Gavroche is going to win. Firstly, Jean Valjean will LET him win because that's the kind of person Valjean is, and secondly, he'll win because he's GAVROCHE, peoples.

Ooh, do tell me how you like the book! I can't recommend it highly enough-- this is going to sound snooty, but I honestly think you can't truly appreciate the musical until you've read the book. (Yeah, book snob talking here...)

AnnaKate said...

Gavroche is fabulous; oh, how I love him!

But did you just say that the sewer scene and the Waterloo description were boring?! Seriously?

Anonymous said...

Amy - HA!! I think he is, too. He's so stinkin' cute!!!

I'm really and truly going to look for it now! And, yes - I'm a member of the you-can't-appreciate-the-book-or-movie-or-musical-without-reading-the-book club, too. I'll let you know what I think of it!!


Alexandra said...


(scrambles off to find copy of Les Miz book that I just got from the library for the millionth time - I WILL finish it...)

I really need to get with it!Everyone is all Team Gavroche and I really never understood why. He was the kiddie that got shot. Sadness, but yeah. But those quotes from the book...he sounds pretty amazing! Gotta read it, really gotta...

Anonymous said...

Alexandra - HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE HIM?! He's so cute!! Hmph. Get back to me on that after you see the musical or watch the movie.


An Old-Fashioned Girl said...

What a lovely post, Amy! I totally agree- Gavroche is quite adorable, and I just love that quote about "no more complaints!"

Melody said...

So, when exactly did you read Les Mis the first time? I've probably asked you that before but... I forgot. :P I mean, I know like in general when it was but not particularly.

And HA, that citation. My goodness gracious. You realize why the very thought of trying to read this book is extremely daunting to me, don't you? :P

"the book was mainly dealing with a lovestruck law student who was mooning around watching chickens on a manure heap and dreaming about some girl he'd seen in the park."

"Small boy yourself!"
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Allow me to sit here giggling under my breath for a couple minutes. :P

The second-to-last quote bit wasn't in either of the concerts, right? Where'd you learn it then, bootlegs? Haha... or just a CD of a different version?