He revolts at the cruelty and injustice of the French prison system and French society in general, but can’t escape his past as a convict.
He’s pursued relentlessly by Javert, after the police instructor learns that he has taken on a assumed identity and become a wealthy businessman and mayor of a small French town.
Les Miserables First Look Five New Songs
Javert accuses him of being the convict he locked up years earlier. He denies it and has a chance to put his past behind him once and for all when a destitute beggar is accused of being Valjean and is about to be sent to prison for Valjean’s crimes. The real Valjean faces a moral dilemma.
He can let the man go to trail and be rid of his past once and for all, but it will come at the expense of sending an innocent man to jail. In the song, “Who Am I,” must ask himself what kind of man he is.
“If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!” he sings. In the end, he can’t stand to see someone else take the blame for his life. He travels to Paris, stands up at the trial and admits he is the real Jean Valjean.
That sets off an odyssey that forces Valjean to flee to Paris with Cossett. Javert, mindful of his promise to find Valjean and put him back in jail, also makes his way to Paris where they cross trails again, with far different results.
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