Germinal: Analysis

1957 Words Sep 16th, 2007 8 Pages
Miner Triangle

Emile Zola tells the tale of poverty stricken miners in a small French town called Montsou. Germinal begins with Etienne, a mechanic without a job, as he stumbles through the night and comes across Le Voreux, a coalmine outside Montsou. Germinal is about people's lives and struggles. Throughout Germinal Zola describes the lives of the miners and touches upon a few main themes. Etienne along with the other main characters face the issues of socialism, social justice, human nature, and relationships. Throughout the book the miners change and evolve. Their ideals and values develop and progress. Etienne, Catherine, and Chaval exhibit the effects of these themes through their actions and lives. Their relationships
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This is one of the most important themes in the book, social justice and change. Will the poor always be poor? Will the workers always be lower than the bosses? Another family member says, "…there'll always be bosses…" (p. 166). Even in this day and age there are people at the extreme top, and people at the extreme bottom. The wife brings up another point, "D'you think the bourgeoisie will ever agree to work as hard as we do?" (p. 169). Will there ever be equality? That would eliminate the class system, which seems to be human nature. Eventually the workers do strike, and this causes Etienne to push forward with his ideas. He talks to people in groups and alone. He raises money for the fund and brings up the idea of joining the "International" for assistance. He reads every book he can, even books about Darwin and his ideology. The town begins to suffer after the strike carries on for weeks. Zola describes the workers' attitudes towards the situation, "Since they had been shown the promised land of justice, they were ready to suffer on the road of universal happiness. Hunger went to their heads…" (p. 226). The people are starving, yet they strive for justice. They have faith, which is all you can have when you have nothing. Etienne is now a leader. He is writing to Pluchart to come speak to the miners and their families. He wants the town to join the "International", but he also wants to improve his position.
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