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BOOK SEVENTH: The Champmathieu Affair
Madeleine is torn between going to find Cosette and going to Arras to speak up for the man who has been identified as him. He agonizes over the dilemma of revealing himself for the sake of a man whom he doesn’t know or continuing to hide his identity for his own sake as well as for the good of the people he is serving as mayor. The illness of Fantine enables him to decide for Cosette, but the candlesticks on his mantle cause him to change his mind again. In the end he heads for Arras in spite of numerous petty interruptions. Meanwhile, Fantine is near death but rallies a little at the promise of Cosette’s return.
Madeleine arrives in Arras as the trial is underway and has to obtain entry into the court by means of a favor. There he proves to the court that he, and not Champmathieu, is Jean Valjean. He leaves the court to return to Fantine. Javert follows him and intrudes into the sick room.
The Champmatheir Affair is the beginning of a life long battle Valjean will fight every time he has the opportunity to free himself of the ax that dangles above his head. Over and over, he will sacrifice himself and deny himself in the interest of protecting another.