Like an open eye fixed upon him, the forty sous piece is the object that God uses to wake Jean Valjean’s consciousness into the reality which has already existed.
I can relate in my own life experience. I have had a flashback of a ten-year-old boy in a Nebraska bedroom facing some dark years ahead, seemingly alone, but it was not so. That boy was protected and in the hand of God for some unknown but beautiful reason. And the awakening did not happen for eight more years, like an electric shock, and the vision of that boy with revealed eternal reality did not come for another 20 after that: A vision that showed the boy’s divine company caressing and caring.
It strikes me too how messy Jean Valjean’s life became after his salvation. Even here at first, he had already made a compounding mistake. Even after he had been given to God, he did not act in his new life, but instead committed another unkindness, even a crime with legal complications. So too I have made messes in my life that are not just a one mistake, as if I might settle and learn, but the second (or third) compounding error got me most of the mess, as if to deprive myself even of the respect of an honest penitant. Let the humility continue. And let that humility continue to break out on me to fan the praise of the glory of his grace. For the good that I can do is not truly known to me in the doing; but as a passive pilgrim, thinking myself to be doing a good, I am used by my Father in spite of myself to do a different, true good with genuine effect on someone else. And so Jean is an object of His grace, accepted still, though he has botched the clean circumstance of his salvation.