An Extra Wrinkle

Completely skipped by the musical: Jean Valjean is recaptured, tried for robbing the chimney-sweep boy after his release, and sent back to prison. He offers no defense (he did take the coin), even though the prosecution claims he committed armed robbery with accomplices, which gets him the death penalty (though the king commutes it to life in prison). What he really did was step on a coin and refuse to move his foot.

Not long after he’s sent back to prison, he saves the life of a crewman on a ship that’s in for repairs, then¬†“falls” to his apparent death in the waters below. No body is found, but who could survive that?

Honestly, the whole sequence doesn’t add much that we don’t already know, though it does give him a little anonymity in that he’s presumed dead until Javert figures out that he isn’t, making it even more of a one-man crusade to recapture him.

It also sets up a nice parallel between Valjean’s escape and Javert’s suicide, which the musical picked up on by using the same song for Valjean breaking parole and Javert breaking down.

On Tumblr (Re-Reading Les Mis)