The following analysis considers authors’ inventiveness in taking full advantage of a genre’s apparent restriction of shortness. Hugo extended the inherent meaning of “Claude Gueux” by alluding to the structure of fables, which carry with them the knowledge that they are long lived and that their lessons are ageless. The story’s coda insists powerfully on France’s horrendous prison conditions. While the author based the main personage on a real recidivist criminal, he changed his character to one that elicits sympathy, since his crime was caused by society’s penal system. Hugo then demands reform.