Written Assignment #2: Essay on Germinal: Zola's treatment of the family's economy and daily life in the expanding industrial society.

Essay by dimi19University, Bachelor'sA+, October 2004

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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 foremost major problem for a worker was that he was a slave to his employer. Etienne's manager even says it strait out to Etienne that "I am just a paid servant like you and have no more say in all this than the youngest of your pit boys."

(217). Etienne was distressed and well aware of this situation and anxiously thought about how "the miner was waking up under the ground, germinating in the earth like good seed, and one fine morning you would see him springing up like corn in the fields...why should the worker remain the slave of the employer who paid him? The big Companies now crushed everything down with the weight of their machines." (167). This was the situation of the working class, who were forced to live a miserable existence under the horrible oppression of the big "Companies." One major problem that arose in the novel was a poster going up changing the payment method for the miners, which was literally cheating them...