Written Assignment #2: Essay on Germinal: Zola's treatment of the family's economy and daily life in the expanding industrial society.
1343 WordsNov 12, 20046 Pages
Emile Zola's novel Germinal depicts an unflattering view of the working class in late nineteenth century France. Zola presents a view into the terrible conditions of the working class and shows the hardships of a coal miner named Etienne. The worker is depicted as a slave to his employer who is treated unjust on many occurrences. Food was a pleasure to have and scarce, thanks to the problem of low wages. There were rampant dangers and problems around such as fines, strikes, and illness. The motto at the time of the workers was "To each according to his worth, and each man's worth determined by his works." (169). This period saw the work a man does determining his worth, and his work was done in horrifying conditions.
The first and…show more content…
Like moles burrowing under the weight of the earth, without a breath of air in their burning lungs, they went on picking away. (60)
Along with the dangerous gas that filled up the mines, many other dangers lingered. Maheu and his gang worked "up in hell" (48) in the sixth where The galleries, spaced one above the other at fifteen-metre intervals, seemed to go on forever, and the climb up this narrow fissure was scraping the skin off his back and chest. He was gasping for breath as though the rocks were crushing his limbs beneath their weight, he felt as though his hands were being torn off and his legs were black and blue, while the lack of air made his blood ready to bust through his skin. (48-49)
Zola shows that workers had extremely demanding labor in horrible conditions without
enough food - a deadly combination.
In fact, death was not a stranger to the miners. One sabotaged accident left fifteen victims presumed dead. Negrel, the head engineer and supervisor, had the opinion that "not one of the victims could still be alive, all fifteen must certainly have perished from drowning of asphyxia..." (455) Even despite all the danger the workers had to suffer major injustices. Etienne argued against the Company saying "You cut down the price per tub and then pretend to make up for the cut by paying for