Les Miserables: Novel Summary: Section 4 – Book 12

 Section 4 – Saint-Denis and Idyll of the Rue Plumet
Book Twelve – Corinth
The morning of July 5th, Bossuet (a.k.a. Laigle) and Joly had gone to the wine shop called Corinth for their breakfast. While they feasted upon oysters, ham, and cheese Grantaire joins them but begins his day by drinking wine. A small child comes with a message for Laigle from Enjolras that asks them to join the ABC group at the funeral procession. Grantaire announces that he cares more for breakfast than for a hearse and they all decide to stay in the wine shop. By two oclock the table is covered with empty wine bottles. Laigle is leaning out the second story window of the shop wetting his back in the rain when he sees Enjolras, Courfeyrac and the others marching down the street. He calls to them to discover their purpose and learns that they are going to make a barricade. He suggests that they make one right there on the spot and Courfeyrac agrees that it is a good spot. In fact the streets converging on the Corinth formed the perfect location to construct a barricade. In short order the mob begins tearing up the paving stones, pulling iron bars from windows and stacking barrels until a wall the height of a man had been constructed. The residents of the street shut up their houses in horror and one old woman affixes a mattress to her window to stop the bullets. Bossuet liberates a passing carriage and adds it to the wall.
Throughout all this destruction, the owner of the Corinth, the widow Huchelop, was beside herself with anxiety at the commandeering of her shop. Grantaire, for his part, continued to drink heavily and full of heady joy began to make inebriated announcements to the insurgents. Enjolras rebuked him for his disrespect and Grantaire immediately becomes somber and passes out at the table with his head in his hands.
As the barricade and a smaller wall were being constructed the men, almost all bearing some specie of weapon, talked of their chances and resolved to die to the last if need be. They felt they could count on Paris to rise in support of their cause. In the kitchen of the Corinth all the pewter ware was being melted into bullets. In the midst of this activity Courfeyrac noticed that the young workingman who had come with a message for Marius had disappeared. Gavroche was a flurry of activity and words and directed the construction of the barricade with great enthusiasm. He had discovered that his ancient pistol lacked a hammer but much to his chagrin no one would give him a musket. When the two walls of the barricade were finished, with a small hole left at the extreme end to allow men to pass out, a red flag was raised above the larger wall. Courfeyrac produced the large box from his apartment and it proves to contain cartridges. Each man receives thirty.
While the men wait for the soldiers to come they talk and sing songs. Night falls and the city is filled with sounds of intermittent gunfire. There are fifty men at the barricade and they expect the government to be massing sixty thousand troops. Gavroche finds a musket and while he is admiring it in the busy basement of the Corinth he notices a tall strange man come into the room and sit in deep meditation. At this moment Enjolras enters and asks Gavroche to go beyond the barricade and see what is going on in the streets. Gavroche agrees and then in a softer voice points out the strange man and warns Enjolras that he knows the man to be a police officer and most likely a spy. Enjolras gathers some strong men and asks the stranger who he is. The stranger disdainfully answers that he is an officer of the government and that his name is Javert. The strong men seize him and upon searching him find an identity card and a note that contains orders for him to examine the slope of the right bank of the Seine to see if robbers have resorts there once his political mission is fulfilled. They tie Javert to a post in the center of the room and inform him that he will be killed ten minutes before the barricade is taken. Javert contemptuously asks why they do not kill him immediately to which Enjolras observes that they are judges, not assassins. One of the members of the mob, a stranger to most but known as Le Cabuc, gets drunk and calls upon his fellow men to stave in the door of a nearby house so they can use the windows as a post from which they can fire. He begins to bang on the door with the butt of his musket and an old man, the porter, comes to the third story window and very politely refuses to open to the mob. Le Cabuc shoots the man in the head and his body slumps forward and hangs out the window. Enjolras seizes Le Cabuc and orders him to his knees. He gives Le Cabuc one minute to pray or think and at the end of one minute shoots him dead. The body is thrown over the barricade. Enjolras explains that he executed the man out of necessity for discipline and that they must be virtuous if their goals are to be taken seriously. He promises that he is committed to the death and the others pledge their fidelity. Soon afterward Courfeyrac notices that the slight young man that came calling for Marius has returned to the barricade.
The construction of the barricade is described in detail as well as the barbaric behavior of the men who are involved in this endeavor. Enjolras attempts to establish some form of discipline but he also comes across as a brutal killer.