#6: "The Unknown is an ocean. What is conscience? It is the compass of the Unknown. Thought, meditation, prayer, these are the great mysterious directions of the needle. Let us respect them. Where do these majestic irradiations of the soul go? Into the shadow, that is, toward the light."
Where: Page 517.
What's Happening: Plot-wise, not a whole lot is happening here. This is a sort of transitional period in the book where Hugo is giving us a lot of background information on the convent that Jean Valjean and Cosette will eventually begin a new life at.
What I Learned: This passage is obviously very deep. Although only a mere seven sentences, there is a world of meaning behind the words. The first sentence is the part that resonates the most with me, because I sincerely agree that the Unknown is one vast, limitless ocean. I can't tell you how many times I have gazed at an ocean...actually, come to think of it, not many times. I don't live anywhere near an ocean and so I think I must rephrase and say that I can't tell you how many times I have seen an ocean on TV and thought to myself...what an enormous body of water that is! How deep is it? How far does it extend? We can see straight to the horizon, yes, but how far away is the horizon and where does it go? Limitless. And the Unknown - all of the mysteries of life, as well as all of the knowledge and information that there is to know about on this Earth - is just as vast and just as difficult to measure. But although the ocean and the Unknown are immense and we human beings are very small, we can still feel connected, by thinking, meditating, and praying...three activities that bring us closer to a spiritual existence, and thus, harmony with the things that can't yet be known...and are still there to be discovered. We are spiritual sailors, navigating on the ocean of life through the waves of knowledge, sailing steadily to the light.