Fantine's Backstory.
April 14, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

What is Fantine's back story?

When Fantine in the musical Les Miserables sings "he took my childhood in his stride," what is she referring to?
posted by Wordwoman to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Presumably (if it is faithful to the novel--I haven't seen the musical) she's referring to her lover, a bourgeois and privileged student, having taken her virginity when she was a poor orphan of IIRC fifteen and then casting her off when she was pregnant with Cosette.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:28 PM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

She thought the relationship would be forever, slept with him, got pregnant and he walked away (hence the stride). She was young at the time and naive, but all of this forrced her to become an adult rather quickly.
posted by superfille at 6:29 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think that line just refers to the fact that she was young when she was with Tholomyès (Cosette's father), who then left her.
posted by dayintoday at 6:31 PM on April 14, 2012

"Taken in stride" is a metaphor meaning "it isn't a big deal." It doesn't refer to actual physical strides.

The original lyric is "Et puis un jour il est parti / En m'ayant volé mon enfance" (And one day he was gone/Having stolen my childhood).
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:39 PM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

It is not shown in the musical, but in the novel a rich young guy named Félix Tholomyès hooks up with her, leads her to believe they have a future, and then he and his friends (who have each been hooking up with one of Fantine's friends) ditch all of them on a lark. She's left pregnant with Cosette.
posted by Anonymous at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2012

So funny -- I was just discussing this with a friend of mine! (Are you my friend?)

I had always thought (based on "in his stride") that Fantine was saying that her lover wasn't bothered by the fact that she was only a child (and that that was a good thing). But after thinking about it more, talking with my friend, and looking up the French lyrics, I've decided that "in his stride" is kind of misused here, and that it means he took her virginity without even caring.
posted by cider at 11:51 AM on April 15, 2012

Response by poster: I'd always presumed it must be a good thing because of the way the lyric is constructed:

He slept a summer by my side (good thing)
He filled my days with endless wonder (good thing)
He took my childhood in his stride (good thing, surely?)
But he was gone when Autumn came

posted by Wordwoman at 1:24 PM on April 15, 2012

Response by poster: and also because I've never heard "took it in stride" in a negative context
posted by Wordwoman at 1:26 PM on April 15, 2012

No, it's a negative thing. She was happy with him, and then he fucked up her life without even caring. (In the novel, he is such an utter douchecanoe that you [I, anyway] start screaming at the book in rage.)

This is really the fault of the translation--the intent is far more clear in the original French lyric. "He stole my childhood" is what the original lyric says.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:13 PM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

She's not praising him for not caring that she was 15 when he got her pregnant and dumped her, in other words.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:13 PM on April 15, 2012

Bittersweet regret can mean taking the same thing in more than one way.
posted by dhartung at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2012

This was how I imagined the conversation to go based on the lyrics:

Felix: "HAY HAY HAY"
Fantine: "Oh sir, but I am pretty young, I feel self-conscious about my lack of worldliness and experience, you don't mind?"
Felix: "Sure don't little lady, you are so mature for your age, anyway I'll show you how things roll!"
Fantine: "Wow, this guy is so understanding, I feel so loved and mature!"

*lots of banging*

Felix: "Welp, that was fun. Imma gonna go."
Fantine: "But I'm pregnant!"
Felix: "Yeah, that'll happen. PEACE."
posted by Anonymous at 6:11 PM on April 15, 2012

Or, as happened in the book,

Felix: "Hey, I've got the coolest idea ever, bros! Let's all dump our mistresses because they're just paupers who are cramping our style with the classy girls we want to marry!"

Friends: "Dude! That's awesome!"

Felix: "And to make it even better, I have a plan! Let's give a big dinner party, tell the mistresses we have a surprise for them, and then the surprise will be a letter saying our fathers have forbidden us to see them anymore!"

Friends: "OH FACE you are the man, Felix!"

Felix: "And then we'll stick them with the check for the dinner party. It will be fucking hilarious because they're all poor and shit."

Friends: {high-five Felix}
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can't add to the excellent descriptions already given, but this might have been my favorite thread ever.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:53 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So maybe this is the wrong place to post this but the movie trailer looks so amazing! Can't wait! Obligatory: maybe it will help me understand Fantine's backstory better.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:32 PM on June 1, 2012

Fantine's "childhood" is her virginity. Over a summer she went from naive lovestruck girl to "fallen," pregnant, abandoned, humiliated, doomed to poverty. Childhood lost, innocence gone. He took it in his stride = he had no regard for the consequences (there were none for him).
posted by headnsouth at 9:14 AM on October 28, 2012

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