The dream sequence is an often forgotten part of the novel and there does not seem to be much scholarship about it. Prof Hoffheimer published an excellent paper entitled "Jean Valjean’s Nightmare: Rehabilitation and Redemption in Les Misérables" which offers various insights into the significance of the dream. One of the most interesting insights presented is the idea that Champmathieu could be Valjean's brother. Hoffheimer states that there is evidence that the memory may actually belong to Valjean and not the dream subject. Hoffheimer says this idea is strengthened by Hugo’s decision to alter the tense of this part of the dream from past imperfect to present (from “the brother of whom he was never thinking” to “the brother of whom I should say that I never think). Even if we accept that the memories belong to the dream subject, Hoffheimer says that that it could be an unconscious recognition of a brother Valjean is not aware of. Could Champmathieu be Valjean's brother? Champmathieu is the right age and appearance to be his brother and also comes from the same area. Prof Hoffheimer's paper offers other great insights such as the idea the dream signifies Valjean's religious transformation, that it speaks about child abandonment and that it represents one of three instances of "doubling" in the novel (another instance is where Valjean sees grave image of himself during the Gervais incident). I find the possibility of a long lost brother the most interesting insight and I would like your thoughts on it.
Another thing to think about is the identification of Romainville as the town the dream subject visits in the dream. This is not in the original drafts.
You can read the full paper here:
http://www.mcgeorge.edu/documents/publi ... _FINAL.pdf