Lesson: Les Miserables 2--Small Decisions, Big Consequences

Story by Victor Hugo

 Valjean was now the mayor of his new hometown.  He owned a factory and he made sure the workers are in good moral standing.  One day he saw some women workers fighting in his factory.  Fontine was fighting someone else over her letter regarding Cosette, her daughter living at someone's lodging place.  Valjean didn't pay much attention to the reasons of the fight, only that he didn't want people fighting in his factory.  So he asked the foreman to resolve it, and he left.  The foreman, already angry at Fontine over something else, fired her and sent her to the streets.  Fontine, desperate to make money to save Cosette, became a prostitute and got really ill.  She was arrested by Javert.  Valjean heard about this and went to get Fontine out of jail.  He took Fontine to the hospital to take care of her, that is, until she died.  Before she died, he asked Valjean to take care of Cosette.

Was it wrong for Valjean to want the workers to have good manners in the factory?

What was Valjean's mistake?
- not paying attention to the struggles of his workers (he could have spent some time to get to know them)
- not giving Fontine a chance to explain

This one decision may be one of the most important decisions Valjean had ever made.  Because of it, Fontine would die and Valjean would end up taking care of Cosette.  Valjean would become a criminal constantly on the run.  If it were not for Cosette, he could have started a new life elsewhere much more easily.

Sometimes the decisions that seem very small at the time end up being the ones that have the most impact:
- Reuben leaving Joseph at the hands of his brothers -> Joseph was sold to Egypt (Gen. 37)
- Moses hit the rock instead of commanding it as the Lord instructed -> Moses was not allowed to lead the Isarelites into Canaan (Num. 20)
- David not brining in the Ark properly -> Uzzah died because of it (2Sam 6)

How do you know how to make the right decisions?
- there tends to be guidelines (from Bible, parents, teachers, etc.)
- take time to care about others just a bit more; you never know how that affects them...

This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 6/24/2000