Section 3 - Marius
Book Five - The Excellence of Misfortune
Marius embarks upon a meager existence. He comforts himself with his bitterness toward his grandfather and in his poverty learns to bear the gibes of society. Years pass. He manages to complete law school but relies upon his work as a translator to provide his income. He takes a room with no fireplace at the Gorbeau tenement. After his expenses he is left with fifty francs a year in free income and he considers himself rich. He occasionally lends money to his friends. He has two suits, one ragged and the other in decent shape. Both the suits are black.
Although he has not lost his resolve to find Thenardier his attempts to locate the man are unsuccessful. By the time he takes the room at the Gorbeau house, Marius is twenty years old. He had not had any contact with his Grandfather except to send him a letter once he had finished law school. Marius is convinced that his Grandfather never loved him but in fact the old man had a deep affection for Marius but his pride would not allow the world to see his grief at their separation.
Marius leads a more or less solitary existence. Though he remains friendly with Enjolras and the ABC group he is not considered a member. His only two friends are Courfeyrac and the brother of his father's cure, Monsieur Mabeuf. Monsieur Mabeuf is a passionate horticulturist and had written and published a Flora of the Environs of Chauteretz an esteemed work for which he owns the plates and sells copies. He is a collector of books and unknowingly furthers Marius' own political development with his philosophy that places the affairs of the mind above those of the world.
Around 1830 Monsieur Mabeuf's brother dies and his notary fails and costs him his life savings of ten thousand francs. He moves to a simple cottage with his old servant woman. Marius visits him a couple times a month at his new dwelling. Soon after Marius moves to the Gorbeau house, the landlady informs him that his neighbors, the Jondrette family, is going to be turned out for twenty francs of back rent. Marius, who has only thirty francs, gives the landlady twenty-five francs, and tells her to give the family the extra five francs but instructs her not tell from where the money came.
About this time it happened that the regiment to which Lieutenant Theodule (Aunt Gillenormand's nephew and Monsieur Gillenormand's grandnephew) became stationed in Paris. The Aunt had always favored this boy and contrived to have him supplant Marius in his grandfather's affections. Accordingly the young lancer called one day and was told by his Aunt to agree to everything his grandfather said. Monsieur Gillenormand was passionately denouncing the intentions of a group of students (which he believed that Marius would join) that were to meet and debate the government. To his every statement the grandnephew agreed. At the end of the interview the Grandfather looked his grandnephew in the eye and stated "You are a fool."
Marius has learned to fend for himself and appears to have become a better person for it. Even though he is poor, he readily helps others. He also is determined to stick to his convictions and refuses to accept money from his grandfather.