The novel is famous as an impassioned cry on behalf of the poor and oppressed. Those who pick it up with that in mind are often surprised to find that the cry comes via a story whose one constant character is God and whose hero struggles above all against himself. Those who read it looking solely for the conversion story may be equally put off that it dwells so much on politics and power. In this, as in much else, it is an authentic version of the Christian story. Heaven or justice: choose one. That is not the Gospel. Hugo wants both.