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Friday, June 07, 2013

Defending Grantaire

"I am wild" ~ Grantaire, Les Miserables

I wasn't planning to write a post defending Grantaire this week - or any other time, for that matter.  For one, I never seem to get my thoughts across in these types of posts (at least I don't think I do).  The other thing was - I didn't think Grantaire needed defending.  I'd always assumed that everyone in the fandom liked him as much as I do (or even more).  It wasn't until I started the mini-tournament that I realized there are some people who don't like Grantaire.  So I'm writing this post to defend him and hopefully change your mind (if you don't like him).

I can understand when people say he's not one of their favorites.  He's an alcoholic, loud, annoying at times and really cynical.  That being my opinion, musical-Grantaire is relatively easy to like.  He has an awesome friendship with Gavroche, some of the best lines (his part in Drink With Me comes to mind) and he's generally a great guy.  In the brick, however, it's quite a different matter...

If Les Mis characters were fonts, this would be Grantaire

To understand Grantaire in the brick, you have to understand his backstory.  Where his cynicism and self-doubt came from.  The following is a theory, passed on to me by a friend, of why Grantaire is the way he is.  Because he couldn't have been born a cynic.  There has to be a reason for it, right?  

When he was really young, he was basically like Gavroche - living on the streets - the only difference being that he was an orphan.  As he grew up and really started noticing the poverty around him, he was determined to help the other poor people so he became somewhat like Enjolras...passionate, willing to fight and die for other peoples' freedoms, etc.  But after a speech-turned-riot killed his best friend, he gave up.  He didn't want to see anyone else that he cared about, die, so he gave up the cause.

Even though Grantaire became a cynic, he couldn't help his innate better qualities from coming to light.  He once said that if he had any money, he would give it to the poor because money means nothing to him.  When a boy comes to Bossuet on the morning of June 5th with a message from Enjolras, Grantaire (and Joly and Bossuet) gives him some money without hesitating.  And tells him to stay and have breakfast with them because it's not only raining - it's unsafe.  Grantaire makes a massive effort not to care about anything when his natural predisposition is to care about everything.  He doesn't want his friends to die in the coming battle, so he speaks out against the cause.

He was ironic and warmhearted.  His indifference was loving.  His mind dispensed with faith but his heart could not dispense with friendship.

And then there's Enjolras and Grantaire.

I honestly think this is one areas where Enjolras is wrong.  Completely wrong.  Grantaire isn't like the other students and sometimes Enjolras is really just mean to him.  Consider...

"You don't believe in anything," Enjolras said.
"I believe in you."
"Grantaire, would you do me a favor?"
"Anything you like - I'd black your boots."
"No need, just keep out of our affairs.  Stick to your absinthe."
"That's ungrateful of you, Enjolras."

See what I mean?  Now I'll admit that Grantaire doesn't follow through with his promise to Enjolras in that chapter, but maybe if Enjolras had shown a little more faith in him, he might have...

Of course, in the end, Grantaire redeems himself by dying with Enjolras - in what is probably the most iconic scene in the fandom.  When I first read the brick, I hardly knew anything about Les Mis (I had just watched the 10th - that was all I knew of it) and I didn't know how Enjolras died.  I was zipping through chapters in the dead of night to find it and read it before I went to sleep.  I was weird back then =)  Anyway, I found it.  I was reading along, doing fine although I was tearing up because Enjolras was going to die.  And then Grantaire woke up.  Now, I had pretty much forgotten that Grantaire even existed at that point and I was totally not prepared for what happened next.  I was cryyyyyying.  I still do.

And there it is.  My defense of Grantaire.  All I can say is...if you don't like Grantaire, I hope this post has made you rethink your position at least a little bit.  And if you do like him, well...

*cyber high-five*

The End.


Anonymous said...

Thank you! He's not my absolute favorite barricade boy, but thank you for your point, I totally agree with you!
~Hannah S.

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Definitely! I listened to the musical before I read the brick or watched the movie, so I didn't know much about the barricade boys. They were just sort of names to me. I read the brick and watched the movie around the same time, and all of a sudden I'm like, "Whoa! These guys are awesome!"
I've always had a special soft spot for Grantaire, although my favorite of Les Amis is Jehan Prouvaire. This post expressed my sentiments on him perfectly. Well, not perfectly, because I had never thought about the backstory, but pretty much. :D
Great post!
By the way, if you see random comments popping up on older posts, it's because I'm reading through some of your old ones. :)

Eva said...

*high-fives* My favorite is Jehan too! :) And please, comment away - I love getting them.

Anonymous said...

I love R very much...because although he pretends to believe in nothing, he loves Enjolras enough to die next to him when he could just walk away...but Enjolras will always be my favorite. *teary high-five* Thank you for joining in the Grantaire crusade.

Kath said...

Love the post! I always liked Grantaire and I don't even know why, but thanks for giving me reasons xx

Laura Mizvaria said...

Great post! I haven't read the whole brick but I kinda did the same thing you did, with the skimming, haha. I think Grantaire is such an amazing character and the whole Enjolras thing is very interesting. Overall I like your analysis of this topic.

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