In the past month, I have watched the 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables, seen the musical performed live at the Fisher Theater, and yesterday received my DVD of the 10th anniversary concert of Les Mis which I purchased because it’s absolutely my all-time favorite cast. (Sorry Nick Jonas, you’re not Marius—I can’t get past the fact you’re a Jonas brother. Besides Michael Ball has a vastly superior voice.)
I guess it’s sufficient to say that I’ve recently spent many hours listening to the songs of this musical and loving every minute of it. The music and lyrics are just phenomenal. And of course the story is compelling as well.
One of my best friends shares a love for Les Mis too (in fact she first introduced me to the music), and we’ve taken to discussing it at random times. This morning she sent me a text asking me what I would do if I were in Fantine’s position.
For those who haven’t seen the musical (which I highly recommend) or read the novel by Victor Hugo, Fantine is a single, unwed mother working in a factory to support her little daughter who lives with an innkeeper man and his wife. When the other women workers find out she has a daughter, they demand they send Fantine away for being promiscuous. As Fantine has previously rejected the Foreman’s advances, he dismisses her.
Unemployed and in desperate need of money to save her sick child, Fantine sells everything she owns of value including her hair. Finally, with no other alternative before her, she eventually resorts to selling herself to save her daughter.
Now, my friend and I both agree Fantine gets the short end of the stick. She eventually dies from what is most likely a combination of disease and abuse from her newly found occupation. But she did it for her child. And this prompted my friend to ask “Would you have become a prostitute to save your daughter’s life?”
Of course, I’m not a mother and have no intention of becoming one for quite some time. But I feel if I were in that position with no other options before me, I think I would. There’d be no other choice. I feel a mother’s love makes it impossible to do otherwise. It’s unconditional and all encompassing, and therefore your child becomes more important than yourself even if it means you have to prostitute yourself to ensure her well-being.
But then again, I am not a mother. So I could be wrong. And if I had only myself to consider, I’d probably rather die than become a prostitute to save myself. (I don’t care how well it worked out for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.)
My friend agreed with me on the whole becoming a prostitute to save your child. But then again she’s not a mother either.
And so I pose this question to all mothers out there: Would you have done the same as Fantine for your child? How far does your love for a child go?