Gavroche in the novel
Gavroche is the eldest son of M. and Mme Thénardier. He has two sisters, Éponine and Azelma, and two unnamed younger brothers. He is also technically unnamed; the reader is told he chooses the name for himself, but is not provided with his real name. Mme. Thénardier only loves her daughters, and M. Thénardier shows no affection for any of his children. Gavroche is told by his parents to live in the street, because he would have a better life there.
The Thénardiers sell (or rent) their two youngest sons to a woman named Magnon. Due to a freak accident, the two boys are separated from Magnon without identification, and encounter Gavroche purely by chance. They are unaware of their identities, but Gavroche invites them to live with him and takes care of them. They reside in the hollow cavity of a giant elephant statue, conceived by Napoleon as a fountain, but abandoned unfinished. This was no imaginary construction; located at the Place de la Bastille, it had been designed by Jean-Antoine Alavoine. The two boys soon leave him the next morning. They are last seen at the Luxembourg Gardens retrieving and eating discarded bread from a fountain. It is unknown what has happened to the two after that.
During the student uprising of June 5–6, 1832, Gavroche joins the revolutionaries at the barricade.
After an exchange of gunfire with the National Guards, Gavroche overhears Enjolras remark that they are running out of cartridges. He decides he can help. He goes through an opening in the barricade and collects the cartridges from the dead bodies of the National Guard. In the process of collecting the cartridges and singing a song, he is shot and killed.
Argot is the slang used by thieves, criminals, and others who live in the streets. Victor Hugo was one of the first to note the slang and write it down. The character of Gavroche is used to introduce the concept of argot to the reader. The word "argot" has actually come to be the current French and Spanish term for "slang".
Gavroche in the musical
Differences in the musical
- The playbill for the musical indicates that Gavroche's parents are the Thénardiers, but this is not indicated in the context of the musical itself.
- Gavroche's two younger brothers and his sister Azelma are cut completely.
- Marius gives a farewell letter to Éponine to deliver to Cosette. In the novel, it is Gavroche who delivers it.
- The musical changes the song that Gavroche sings at the barricade. (The version on the French concept album, however, is the same as in the book.)
Gavroche sings in the following songs in the musical:
- Look Down
- Stars (at the end of the song)
- The ABC Café / Red and Black
- One Day More
- Little People
- The Second Attack (Death of Gavroche)
- Finale/Do You Hear The People Sing? (Reprise)