Les Miserables at its most basic is the story of Jean Valjean. He lived with his sister and her family in extreme poverty in France after the French Revolution. In one act of desperation he broke a window and stole a loaf of bread. His sentence was lengthened by multiple escape attempts until he was finally released 19 years later. His hardness and bitterness increased by the response he got when he was required to show his papers at each new town he visited, resulting in lower pay and refusal of the townspeople to rent him a room or serve him a meal because he was an ex-convict. An act of grace by a bishop resulted eventually in transforming him.
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