[fantine – mistakes happen]

[fantine – mistakes happen]

Yesterday I have talked about Cosette. Today we shall look at her mother, Fantine.

Victor Hugo described her masterfully and lovingly,

Brilliant of face, delicate of profile, with eyes of a deep blue, heavy lids, feet arched and small, wrists and ankles admirably formed, a white skin which, here and there allowed the azure branching of the veins to be seen, joy, a cheek that was young and fresh… Sculptural and exquisite–such was Fantine; and beneath these feminine adornments and these ribbons, one could divine a statue, and in that statue a soul. Fantine was beautiful, without being too conscious. This daughter of the shadows was thoroughbred. She was beautiful in the two ways– style and rhythm. Style is the form of the ideal; rhythm is its movement. We have said that Fantine was joy; she was also modesty.

This was Fantine before the affair.

There were four girls and four young men. As one can guess, they were divided into couples, and Fantine got the leader of the pack. Romantic love is certainly a blind one because to love the man Fantine fell in love was quite unexpected, yet such is life. Another description of Fantine explains even more: “Favourite, Zephine, and Dahlia were philosophical young women, while Fantine was a good girl.”

She was a good girl…who made a wrong choice. As a result, her life after the affair became a nightmare where she was forced to give up her daughter Cosette to people whom she barely knew, she was forced to work at a factory, and when the news about her out-of-the-wedlock child became known, she was left in the street with nothing to call her own. Since she still needed to pay Thenardiers to take care of her daughter whom she loved, she first sold her hair, then her body. If one had seen Fantine now, they would not recognize the former joyful girl in her.

Mistakes happen – yet grace & mercy are still available

If there is a story in the Bible, that reminds me of Fantine’s story, it is that of an adulteress who was caught in the act and brought to Jesus for judgment. One might only guess her background, yet we can easily say that at one time she was an innocent little girl whom the circumstances (or wrong choices) brought to where she was now. Eyes pleading for mercy, body trembling with fear, mind in overdrive trying to guess what this Teacher has to say.

Fantine was in that situation too. Caught as a prostitute on the street, she was brought to jail and sentenced to 6 months of detention. The punishment seemed less severe than that waiting for the Jewish girl, yet taking into account that Fantine was very sick with pneumonia, six months was, too, a death warrant. Pleading with Inspector Javert who brought her in, begging for some time off so that she could pay to Thenardiers, the Fantine-the-Joy transformed into Fantine-the-Despair.

That is when Mr. Madeleine (aka Jean Valjean) comes. As a mayor of the town, he had the authority to override the penalty, which he does. Seeing that Fantine is ill, he also takes her into his own home and cares for her to get better, promising that he will take care of her little girl.

We all make mistakes in our lives. Some mistakes seem tiny in comparison to others, yet they are wrong anyway. The key to a solution here are the words of Jesus found in John 8:10-11:

Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Grace & mercy.

These two are His choicest blessings that He bestows upon us. To quote Julie from I Am His Beloved blog, “Mercy withholds what you deserve. Grace gives you what you do not deserve.”

Let’s not forget how much we have been forgiven before we cast our judgment upon someone else.

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