Germinal: Analysis

1951 words 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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227). In a sense Etienne is becoming that which he hates and despises. This also seems to be human nature, to better ones self, which in most instances means putting yourself above another. Towards the end of the book Chaval joins the fight when the strike spreads to other pits. However, he succumbs to the promises of the boss to promote him if he gets his fellow workers to not strike. Etienne ends up destroying the mine, bringing on another form of justice. In the end the workers lose. There is still class separation, as there is today, and some one always on top. Human nature and human relationships are two friends attached at the hips. They relate directly to each other. Etienne, Catherine, and Chaval are caught up in a complex and sometimes violent relationship. Etienne meets Catherine and Chaval the first day he begins working at the mine, at the beginning of the book. At first Etienne mistakes Catherine for a boy, but soon realizes his fault. He finds Catherine somewhat attractive, even though she is fifteen and underfed. Chaval is one of the men who work in the group. During the lunch break Etienne and Catherine are talking, and sharing a sandwich. Etienne wonders if should "kiss her on the lips" (p. 47). However, before he can react Chaval comes into the scene and "crushed her mouth with a brutal kiss…" (p. 49). This begins the tension between Catherine, Chaval, and Etienne. Zola

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