Yes, this is another Les Mis post. But seeing this word on the Daily Post single word challenge reminded me of the musical.
Punishment relates to Les Mis due to the injustices shown in the storyline. The main one I want to focus on is the injustice Valjean deals with. He unjustly was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to save his sister’s dying son. Before he became a convict, Valjean was a good man who cared about his sister and her children. Due to stealing a loaf of bread, he was sentenced to five years, but due to multiple escapes was imprisoned for another fourteen years. That was unfair because he didn’t commit a serious crime. He only did it to ensure his nephew’s survival. In prison, Valjean hardened into a harsh, angry, hateful man. After his sentence was finished, he was put on parole for the rest of his life. He noticed straight away that no one was giving him a chance. No one could give him a job or somewhere to stay for the night. Due to that, Valjean saw how hateful society was due to him being an ex-convict.
However, only one person saw beyond Valjean’s ex-convict status. That was the Bishop who welcomed him into his house. He also gave Valjean something to eat and a place to sleep for the night. But out of desperation, Valjean woke up in the middle of the night and stole the Bishop’s silver. When he was caught, he was taken back to the Bishop’s house. The Bishop covered up for Valjean and lied by saying that the silver was in fact a gift. This astonished Valjean because he knew he was guilty. The Bishop asked Valjean that he use the silver to become an honest man. Because of the Bishop’s kindness and compassion, Valjean learned the ways of the Lord.
The rest of the plot follows Valjean’s journey of becoming a better person. He helped a struggling community prosper. He showed compassion towards all when he became mayor. Another injustice was eventually discovered through Fantine. As a bit of background, Fantine worked in Valjean’s factory and she had an illegitimate daughter called Cosette. When the foreman discovered this, he kicked her out and this led her to turn to prostitution. Shortly after, she was harassed by an abusive customer, which led to her to attack the customer. At this point, Fantine was desperately ill and Valjean saw the whole fight break out. Javert, the antagonist, showed no mercy or compassion that he sentenced Fantine to six months in prison. That was so unjust because it was the man who should have been sent to jail. Valjean covered for Fantine and said that she does not need to go jail, but instead a hospital. Valjean realized that she was fired by his factory and that she was with child. Valjean felt directly responsible for Fantine’s current condition and decided to make up for it by agreeing to raise her child as his own.