Girls Listening to Flautist

The girls listen to the flute melody across the wall, wondering who the flautist is

Monastic Life is the 20th episode of the series. In it, Cosette is enlisted into the Petit-Picpus convent and begins her education, while also making friends. As the girls grow and mature, they begin to wonder what life is like beyond the walls, as well as meeting their respective "princes". By the end of the episode, an important main character is introduced.


The episode picks up where the previous one left off: After successfully burying the empty coffin in the Parisian graveyard, Cosette and Jean Valjean are able to re-enter the Petit-Picpus convent, where the duo will live alongside Fauchelevent, and Cosette can receive a proper education. As they hide inside Fauchelevent's carriage, they remain silent as Fauchelevent drives up to the main gate of the convent, Javert standing guard. Fauchelevent assures them that the convent nuns only keep an eye out for those who leave the convent. Once at the gate, Fauchelevent is allowed inside.

In Mother Innocente's office, Fauchelevent introduces Valjean as his younger brother, Ultime. When she
Petit-Picpus Interview

Mother Innocente interviews Valjean and Cosette before allowing them to attend the convent

asks Valjean of his interest in working at the convent, Valjean says yes, and that he once worked as a gardener in Amiens. When asked his age, Valjean states that he is 50. Mother Innocente accepts Valjean, and requests Fauchelevent to prepare another knee-bell for him; she also states that Valjean will start working alongside Fauchelevent tomorrow. Valjean thanks Mother Prioress. Now focusing on Cosette, Mother Prioress permits her to enroll in the all-girls school to study, confident she will become a wonderful Sister to the community. 

The next morning, Fauchelevent and Valjean are working in the garden while many of the other convent girls, including Audrey and Charlotte, ask Cosette various questions about what is popular outside the convent, and her origins. Another student, Beatrice, tells her not to worry about the flood of questions, and it is only because the girls have lived in the convent for years, and are naturally curious about what's happening outside the walls. Later that day, Cosette meets with Valjean and Fauchelevent in the shack and tells them about her interactions with the other students until the evening bell rings for her to head back to her dormitory. 

The next day, Charlotte calls to Audrey and Cosette to come over to a wall, which has a large crack across it. The group of girls place their ears against the walls, able to hear the variety of noises outside the convent, including vendors and carriages. The girls are interrupted by the ringing of a bell, and all but Cosette run away. Cosette walks towards the source of the bell and finds Valjean working in the garden. The duo exhange a quick hello before Cosette is called back to the others. As the day progresses, the girls listen to a story read by Beatrice, sing prayers, braid each other's hair, and Cosette tells her stories of the day to Valjean and Fauchelevent. Later that evening, Javert and his men are still on guard outside the convent when they hear the sound of glass breaking. Javert rushes to the scene too late, but vendor informs him that the crime gang Patron-Minette attacked. The next morning, back at the police precinct, the chief of police gives further information about Patron-Minette to Javert: The gang commit crimes during the evening, and the current situation does not allow the police to divert attention from pursueing Valjean.
Charlotte & Cosette Eating Apple

Cosette and Charlotte sharing an apple, just before hearing the flute for the first time

Javert agrees, and thus, they decide to put Valjean on hold and focus on Patron-Minette. For Javert, this certainly doesn't mean his desire of capturing Valjean has changed. Later that evening, Cosette is looking outside the window of the dorm when Charlotte arrives with an apple (which fell from the apple tree) for the two to share. As they eat, they hear the sound of a flute playing.

The next morning, the girls discuss the sound of the flute from last night, and how it was most likely played by someone outside the convent. Suddenly, the melody begins playing again, and the girls rush over to the cracked wall to get a better listen. Later that day, when Cosette meets with Valjean and Fauchelevent, Fauchelevent states that the song was a popular love song from not long ago. Later that night, the girls discuss the song, and wonder who the player is directing the song to. The next morning, the song plays again and Mother Prioress notices the girls rushing to the wall and questions their actions. Cosette wonders out loud what sort of boy could be playing the melody, and upon hearing the word "boy", the girls run away from Mother Prioress and explain to Cosette that boys cannot be talked about in front of Mother Prioress, let alone thinking about one, as it's one of the convent rules. Later that day, Cosette discusses the taboo with Fauchelevent and Valjean. Valjean explains that the girls' duty as Sisters cannot be  interefered with sinful matters such as the opposite sex. Cosette then expresses her desire to see across the wall. That night, Fauchelevent tells Valjean that living in quarters such as the shack must seem like prison compared to the time he served as Mayor, and he asks Valjean if he's satisfied living in the convent. Valjean responds that life in the convent is completely different from that of prison, and that the labor done in prison isn't rewarding compared to the more simple labor in the convent. Fauchelevent exclaims that Valjean's wording makes him sound like he's spent time in prison, to which Valjean remains silent, and prays to Myriel about how he is grateful for arriving in the convent.

The next morning, the flute is heard again, and while up clipping branches from a tree, Valjean is able to
Convent Mystery Flautist

The identity of the mystery flautist is revealed, only to Valjean, Cosette, and Beatrice

see an older man playing the flute. The girls once again rush over to the wall, and, hiding behind his wagon, Valjean watches Cosette scale the ladder to see the flautist. She spots him, and soon, Beatrice joins her up the tree. They agree to keep the identity a secret, since the other girls are imagining their "prince", who will eventually take them outside the convent. Five years later, a teenage Cosette reads a story to the younger Sisters of the convent during the day. Later at sunset, most of the girls are listening to a carriage across the wall, which apparently
Teenage Cosette with Younger Girls

A teenage Cosette about to read a story to the younger girls

regularly frequents the particular street at this time of day. When the girls exclaim in wonder if the rider is a prince, Cosette also fantasizes about the possible identity of the rider. Outside
Marius & M. Gillenormand in Carriage

Marius and his grandfather, M. Gillenormand, are revealed in the carriage passing by at the end of the episode

the convent, one of the passengers is a young man, named Marius, who is riding with an elderly man (his grandfather, Monsieur Gillnemormand).


  • The first [full] day of this episode takes place on March 20, 1824, based on the novel's chronology
  • This episode was originally titled The Days Inside the Convent, but was eventually changed to Monastic Life


  • "What [the convent] possesses is the most beautiful affection from humans. Through sacrificing themselves to atone for the sins of others."
  • "Monsieur Madeleine, you speak as if you've spent time in prison..." - Valjean describing the joys of the convent, while Fauchelevent notes his wording sounds as if [Valjean] has spent time in prison before

Differences from the NovelEdit

  • The five-year skip leading to the end of the episode (i.e. now 1829), leads to conflict with events that occur in the next episode, such as the death of Col. Pontmercy, which occurred in 1827 in the novel, and Marius leaving his grandfather's mansion, which occured in 1828 in the novel

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