Les Miserables Fantine Study Guide

Proficiency Standards:  P.S ELA-2 Reading Analysis: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

A. Evaluate the relevant themes and synthesize how they are present in the novel in oral and written responses.
B. Interpret the implications of setting and circumstance.
C. Analyze the role of characters in the plot in oral and written responses.
D. Analyze important quotations from the text in oral and written responses.
E. Annotate the text.

P.S ELA-3 Reading Craft and Structure: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of a text.

A. Understand SOAPSTone: Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject, Tone
B. Analyze the plot and/or design of the text, following shifts in time and place.

Author’s Preface


Answer the study guide questions which provide as the basis for the questions on the related quizzes and exams.

A List of Characters

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.

The Preface to “Les Miserables”
By Victor Hugo

(The poet and humanitarian of France, 1802–1885, has in this passage set forth the purpose of one of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world)

SO long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.      1

1.  What does Hugo’s preface of the novel appear to suggest about the content of his celebrated work Les Miserable?



The Fall
1.  Describe the traveler.
2.  Why is Labarre suspicious of the traveler?
3.  Why does Labarre refuse to serve the traveler?
4.  Why does the tavern keeper ask the traveler to leave?
5.  Why does the prison refuse to let the traveler stay?
6.  What does the traveler imply when he comments, “I am not even a dog?”
7.  Hoe does Jean Valjean react to the bishop’s kindness?
8.  Why is Monsieur so important to Jean Valjean?
9.  Outline the details of Jean Valjeans suffering in prison.
10. What is the bishop’s name; what does the name translate into English?
11. What odd question does Jean Valjean ask the bishop?
12. Describe jean Valjean’s life prior to his imprisonment.
13. Why does jean Valjean commit his crime?
14. What prevents Jean Valjean from killing the bishop?
15. How does the bishop react to the theft of the silver?
16. Why does the bishop give jean Valjean the candlesticks?
17. What epiphany does  Jean Valjean encounter from his experience with Petit Gervais?
18.  Why do you suspect that this section is entitled The Fall?
To Entrust is Sometimes to Abandon

1.  Why does Fantine entrust Cosette into Madame Thenardier’s care?
2.  What are the terms of the agreement between mother and the Thernardiers?
3.  How do the Thernardier’s deceive Cosette’s mother?
4.  Describe how the Thernardiers treat Cosette.
The Descent
1.  What is Father Madeline’s one condition of employment?
2.  What are the three steps to Father Madeline’s ascent to respectability; what name is he given at each step?
3.  What rumors surface as a result of Monsieur Mayor’s value of his privacy?
4.  Why does Monsieur Mayor mourn for the bishop’s death?
5.  How is Father Fauchelevent rescued?
6.  How had the devotion of one man…given strength and courage to all?
1.  Why does Javert wish to be punished?
2.  What does Javert believe to have happened to Jean Valjean?
The Champmathieu Affair
1.  What does Father Madeline intend to do in court?
2.  What crime is Champmathieu charged with?
3.  How does Father Madeline prove his true identity?
4.  What becomes of Champmathieu?
Counter Stroke
1.  Outline Fantine’s condition and the cause for it?  How does Javert kill Fantine?
2.  What promise does Jean Valjean make to Fantine prior to her death?
3.  How does Jean Valjean manage to return home?
4.  What two lies does Sister Simplice tell Javert?
5.  In what direction does jean Valjean walk?