“I took your unfinished dissection in order to understand life by the contemplation of its opposite! To contemplate the infinite through the study of impermanance, To take the literal measure of mankind without stealing anything else from the catacombs because you told me not to do that anymore, Combeferre! Truly, what could be greater?”
“… To not get ants again,” said Combeferre
No really I think Gavroche and Bahorel’s friendship is an incredibly significant character interaction on so many levels?!?
Like, from Gavroche’s side– and he’s a pretty major character! – this is his first moment of recognition?? I mean, recognition of who he is, of who he wants to be , by someone who can give him that. He spends the whole book either being ignored or used and then ignored by everyone but the momes (who are another part of this, but that’s in a moment). Eponine says he gets her into the theater sometimes, but she doesn’t seem to know much about him otherwise; she doesn’t mention his name. * His parents lock him away and then throw him out; Thenardier doesn’t recognize him even when he saves Thenardier’s life, even when Thenardier is told point blank “uh, that’s your kid”, there’s not even the politeness of a thank-you that would be given to an equal. Montparnasse? Montparnasse acknowledges that Gavroche is useful, and I do think Montparnasse is, in his own limited way, trying to bring Gavroche into a life situation Montparnasse feels is useful to a kid, too– the only life Montparnasse knows. But it’s not what Gavroche wants to be! He wants to help people, and he works with Montparnasse to do that. But he doesn’t want what Montparnasse is offering, the life, the crime, the idleness, and Montparnasse can’t see that.
But Gavroche does want the revolution. Where the Patron-Minette seek him out for his usefulness, he follows the uprising on his own to try and be a part of something he respects. And he’s allowed– he asks Courfeyrac where they’re going and gets told to join. So far so good, but also not unusual; he’s been let come along before, and he’s a street kid, the street is his place. He knows what an emuete is.
And then he sees Bahorel rip down the poster, and hears the whole argument with Enjolras and all, and this kid, who no one gives anything to, who’s been shut out of his own family all his life, has the courage to reach out and claim the right of connection, to say hey, aren’t we alike? And he does this by asking for words, by trying to take Bahorel’s argot. “What does that mean, Hercules?”