Norman McKinnel’s play The Bishop’s Candlesticks is an adaptation of volume one, book second, of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables.
The play is based on the concept that no man is a born offender. It is the circumstances that force him to be so. Punishment or conviction is not the way to reform an offender or a convict. It is charity, faith, hope sympathy and forgiveness that are needed to regain the ‘lost soul’ in a man. In the play, the Bishop does the same with the Convict. But when the Bishop and the Convict were talking the conversation went like this (page 12):
CONVICT: D’you know what I am?
BISHOP: I think one who has suffered much
CONVICT: Suffered? Suffered? My God, yes. But that’s a long time ago. Ha! Ha! Ha! That was when I was a man. Now I’m not a man; now I’m a number: number 15,729 and I’ve lived in Hell for ten years?
What did the Convict mean by “now I’m a number: number 15,729”?