Cosette, I Am Not!
Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 05:16PM
An Unnamed Baldnobber

When I was in grammar school, I took French for two years.  Yes, I can count to ten, know the word for water and know that Les Miserables is a famous French novel.  This is about all I knew until recently when I tried to read this very thick book by Victor Hugo.  I did read some and quite honestly supplemented my grasp by reading reviews, notes and wiki.  This did allowed me to remember that I did know one of the characters, Cosette.  I remembered that whenever the stage play by the same name is being advertised, they always show this little girl dressed in rags sweeping with a broom bigger than she.  Beyond this, I now know that the story is not about the French Revolution.  It was about the early 1800's in Paris, where an ex-convict, who was really I good guy, helped a young girl whose parents had died to escape slavery and grow up to be a caring person with strong moral values.

 It is very hard for me to relate to either of the two women in the story.  Cosette's mother, Fatime, was a very strong person who lived hard and died young and was always focused on her daughters well being.  I don't know if I would be so strong, never having been a mother.  I suspect that many young mothers in today's world would just forget about the child and try to find a little happiness.  Fatime was lucky.  She happen to find a strong man who cared more about doing the right thing than he did about his own fulfillment.  This man, Jean Valjan virtually gave his life so that this girl who wasn't even his daughter could be exposed to a life where she was cared for, appreciated and loved.  This personal story was, of course, taking place, during a time of war when Cosettes protector was being hunted down by a rigid government who cared only about the letter of the law.  While Jean Valjan was helping Cosette to become a responsible and compassionate adult, there we're other young people in Paris who were trying to transform France into a nation with higher values.  One, of these, Marius, fell in love with Cosette, and in the end, both France and Cosette turned out to be far better off than seemed likely in the beginning.

 I was more able to relate to Cosette, but only in part.  As Cosette grew up she had the advantage of Jean Valjan's wisdom, strength and resources.  I have had in my life this same advantage; even more so.  I have had great parents who have always made sure the I was cared for, loved and privileged.  What I did't have was Cosette's early life experience of being deprived, mistreated, humiliated and literally beaten.  I suspect that she may have in the end turned out to be such a good women because she really knew what it was like to not have anyone on her side.  I do not, and believe that I am addicted to being cared for.  It's going to be hard to digest the idea that I am not the very most important person that I know.  Maybe, if I have a baby that will change.          

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