E. Zola’s Zherminal in brief

E. Zola’s Zherminal in brief

Mechanic Etienne Lantier, expelled from the railroad for a slap to the chief, is trying to get a job at the Monsu mine, near Vore, in the village of Two Hundred Soroca. There is no work anywhere, the miners are starving. The place for him at the mine was found only because on the eve of his arrival in the Thief one of the Rollers died. Old slaughterer Mae, whose daughter Katrina works with him in the mine as a second puller, takes Lantier to his artel.

The work is unbearably difficult, and the fifteen-year-old Katrina looks eternally emaciated. Mae, his son Zacharias, artel Levak and Chavall work, lying on their backs and then on their sides, squeezing themselves in a mine almost half a meter wide: the coal seam is thin. In the face an unbearable stuffiness. Katrina and Etienne roll trolleys. On the first day Etienne decides to leave the Thief: this daily hell is not for him. Before his eyes, the company’s management carries miners for taking care of their own safety. The silent slavery of miners amazes him. Only the sight of Katrina, the memory of her make him stay in the village for a while. Mae live in unimaginable poverty. They always need a shopkeeper, they do not have enough for bread, and Mae’s wife has no choice but to go with the children to Piolena’s estate owned by the landowners of the Gregoire. Gregoires, co-owners of mines, sometimes they help the poor. The owners of the manor find in Mahe and her children all the signs of degeneration

and, giving her a pair of old children’s dresses, teach a lesson of thrift. When a woman asks a hundred sous, she is refused: to serve – not in the rules of the Gregoire. Children, however, are given a piece of bread. In the end, Mae manages to soften the shopkeeper Megra – in response to the promise to send Katrina to him. As long as men work in the mine, women prepare dinner – a soup of sorrel, potatoes and leeks; Parisians, who came to inspect the mines and get acquainted with the life of miners, are touched by the generosity of the miners who give the workers such cheap housing and supply coal to all miners’ families. submit – not in the rules of the Gregoire. Children, however, are given a piece of bread. In the end, Mae manages to soften the shopkeeper Megra – in response to the promise to send Katrina to him. As long as men work in the mine, women prepare dinner – a soup of sorrel, potatoes and leeks; Parisians, who came to inspect the mines and get acquainted with the life of miners, are touched by the generosity of the miners who give the workers such cheap housing and supply coal to all miners’ families. submit – not in the rules of the Gregoire. Children, however, are given a piece of bread. In the end, Mae manages to soften the shopkeeper Megra – in response to the promise to send Katrina to him. As long as men work in the mine, women prepare dinner – a soup of sorrel, potatoes and leeks; Parisians, who came to inspect the mines and get acquainted with the life of miners, are touched by the generosity of the miners who give the workers such cheap housing and supply coal to all miners’ families.

One of the holidays in the mining family is washing: once a week the whole family of Mae, without hesitation, takes turns dipping into a barrel of warm water and changing into a clean one. Mae after that dabbles with his wife, calling his only entertainment “gift dessert.” Katrina meanwhile solicits the young Chaval: remembering her love for Etienne, she resists him, but not for long. In addition, Chaval bought her a ribbon. He took possession of Katrina in the shed behind the village.

Etienne gradually gets used to work, to comrades, even to the crude simplicity of local customs: he continually finds himself in love with couples, but Etienne believes that young people are free. It is only Katrin and Chaval’s love that pisses him off: he is unconsciously jealous. Soon he gets acquainted with the Russian machinist Suvarin, who lives with him in the neighborhood. Suvarin avoids talking about himself, and Etienne will not soon learn that he is dealing with a socialist populist. Running from Russia, Suvarin got a job in the company. Etienne decides to tell him about his friendship and correspondence with Plushard, one of the leaders of the workers’ movement, secretary of the northern federation of the International that was just created in London. Suvarin is skeptical of the International and Marxism: he believes only in terror, in revolution, in anarchy and calls to set fire to cities, by all means destroying the old world. Etienne, on the other hand, dreams of organizing a strike, but she needs money – a mutual aid fund, which would allow it to last at least for the first time.

In August, Etienne moves to live with Mahe. He tries to lead the head of the family with his ideas, and Mae seems to begin to believe in the possibility of justice – but his wife immediately reasonably objects that the bourgeois will never agree to work like miners, and all talk about equality will forever remain delusional. Mae’s ideas about a just society are reduced to the desire to live as it should, and that’s no wonder – the company is heavily penalizing workers for non-compliance with safety regulations and is seeking any excuse to cut back on earnings. The next reduction in payments is an ideal occasion for a strike. The head of the Mahe family, receiving shamelessly reduced earnings, is also awarded a reprimand for talking with his tenant about politics – this has already been rumored. Toussaint Mahe, the old miner, only grabs a nod to a fright. He is ashamed of his own dull obedience. A cry of misery spreads throughout the village. In the new section where the Mae family works, everything becomes more dangerous – it will be struck in the face by an underground source, then the layer of coal will be so thin that you can move in the mine only by peeling your elbows. Soon there is the first in the memory of Etienne, a collapse in which the younger son of Mahe, Jeanlain, broke both legs. Etienne and Mae understand that there is nothing more to lose: only the worst lies ahead. It’s time to strike. ahead only the worst. It’s time to strike. ahead only the worst. It’s time to strike.

The director of the Enbo mines reports that no one went to work. Etienne and several of his comrades composed a delegation for talks with the hosts. Mae entered it. Together with him went Pierron, Levak and delegates from other villages. The miners’ demands are insignificant: they insist that they be paid only five sous for the trolley. Enbo is trying to cause a split in the deputation and speaks of someone’s infamous suggestion, but no miner from Mons is yet in the International. On behalf of the miners, Etienne begins to speak – he alone is capable of arguing with Enbo. Etienne ultimately directly threatens that sooner or later the workers will have to resort to other measures to defend their lives. The management of the mines refuses to make concessions, which finally hardens the miners. The money ends at the whole village, but Etienne is convinced, that the strike should be kept to the last. Plushar promises to come to the Thief and help with money, but hesitates. Finally, Etienne waited for him. Miners gather for a meeting with the widow Desire. The owner of the courgette, Rassner, is in favor of ending the strike, but the miners are more inclined to trust Etienne. Plushar, considering strikes as too slow a means of struggle, takes the floor and calls on all the same to continue to strike. To ban the meeting is the police commissioner with four gendarmes, but, warned by the widow, the workers manage to disperse on time. Plushar promised to send a grant. The company’s board of directors meanwhile intended to fire the most stubborn strikers and those who were considered instigators. The owner of the courgette, Rassner, is in favor of ending the strike, but the miners are more inclined to trust Etienne. Plushar, considering strikes as too slow a means of struggle, takes the floor and calls on all the same to continue to strike. To ban the meeting is the police commissioner with four gendarmes, but, warned by the widow, the workers manage to disperse on time. Plushar promised to send a grant. The company’s board of directors meanwhile intended to fire the most stubborn strikers and those who were considered instigators. The owner of the courgette, Rassner, is in favor of ending the strike, but the miners are more inclined to trust Etienne. Plushar, considering strikes as too slow a means of struggle, takes the floor and calls on all the same to continue to strike. To ban the meeting is the police commissioner with four gendarmes, but, warned by the widow, the workers manage to disperse on time. Plushar promised to send a grant. The company’s board of directors meanwhile intended to fire the most stubborn strikers and those who were considered instigators.

Etienne has an increasing influence on the workers. Soon he completely supersedes their former leader – a moderate and cunning Rasner, and he predicts it eventually the same fate. An old man named Immortal at a regular meeting of miners in the forest remembers how fruitlessly his comrades protested and killed half a century ago. Etienne speaks passionately, more than ever. The Assembly decides to continue the strike. Only the mine in Jean-Barthes works for the whole company, the miners are declared traitors and decide to teach them a lesson. Arriving in Jean-Barthes, the workers from Mons begin to cut the ropes – this they force coal miners to leave the mines. Katrina and Chavall, who live and work in Jean-Barthes, also go upstairs. A fight begins between strikers and strikebreakers. The company’s leadership calls the police and the army – dragoons and gendarmes. In response, the workers begin to destroy the mines. The uprising is gaining momentum, spreading fire through the mines. With the singing of the “Marseillaise” the crowd goes to Mons, to the reign. Enbo is lost. The miners are robbing the shop of Megra, who died while trying to save his goods. Chaval leads the gendarmes, and Katrina barely has time to warn Etienne so that he does not get caught by him. This winter, police and soldiers are deployed in all mines, but the work does not resume anywhere. The strike covers new and new mines. Etienne finally waited for a direct confrontation with the traitor Chavall, to whom Ekaterin had long been jealous, and defeated: Chaval had to yield to her and flee. and Katrina barely has time to warn Etienne that he did not fall for them. This winter, police and soldiers are deployed in all mines, but the work does not resume anywhere. The strike covers new and new mines. Etienne finally waited for a direct confrontation with the traitor Chavall, to whom Ekaterin had long been jealous, and defeated: Chaval had to yield to her and flee. and Katrina barely has time to warn Etienne that he did not fall for them. This winter, police and soldiers are deployed in all mines, but the work does not resume anywhere. The strike covers new and new mines. Etienne finally waited for a direct confrontation with the traitor Chavall, to whom Ekaterin had long been jealous, and defeated: Chaval had to yield to her and flee.

Meanwhile, Genlen, the youngest of Mahe, though limp on both legs, learned to run briskly enough, to rob and shoot from the sling. He was disassembled by the desire to kill a soldier – and he killed him with a knife, cat-like jumping from behind, unable to explain his hatred. The collision of miners with soldiers becomes inevitable. The miners themselves took to bayonets, and although the soldiers were ordered to use weapons only as a last resort, shots were soon distributed. The miners throw mud at the officers and bricks, the soldiers respond with firing and the first shots kill two children: Lydia and Beber. Killed Muketta, in love with Etienne, killed Toussaint Mahe. The workers are terribly frightened and depressed. Soon representatives of the authorities from Paris come to Mons. Etienne begins to feel guilty of all these deaths, ruin, violence, and at this point the leader of the miners again becomes Rasner, requiring reconciliation. Etienne decides to leave the village and meets with Suvarin, who tells him the story of the death of his wife, who was hanged in Moscow. Since then, Suvarin has neither attachments nor fear. After hearing this terrible story, Etienne returns home to spend in Mae’s family his last night in the village. Suvarin goes to the mine, where the workers are going to return, and saws one of the fastening of the plating protecting the mine from the underground sea – “Potoka”. In the morning Etienne learns that Katrina is also going to go to the mine. Surrendering to a sudden impulse, Etienne goes there with her: love makes him stay in the village for another day. By evening, the stream broke through the skin. Soon the water burst onto the surface, all exploding with its powerful movement. At the bottom of the mine remained the old man Muk, Chaval, Etienne and Katrina. On the chest in the water they try to get out into the dry shaft, wander in the underground labyrinths. Here Etienne’s last encounter with Chavall takes place: Etienne cut the skull into an eternal rival. Together with Katrina Etienne manages to scrape out in the wall a kind of bench on which they sit over a stream that rushes along the bottom of the shaft. They spend three days underground, waiting for death and not hoping for salvation, but suddenly someone’s beatings are heard through the earth: they get through, they are saved! Here, in the darkness, in the mine, on a tiny strip of firmament, Etienne and Katrina merge for the first and last time in love. After that, Katrina is forgotten, and Etienne listens to the approaching shocks: the rescuers have reached them. When they were raised to the surface, Katrina was already dead. Etienne cut the skull into an eternal rival. Together with Katrina Etienne manages to scrape out in the wall a kind of bench on which they sit over a stream that rushes along the bottom of the shaft. They spend three days underground, waiting for death and not hoping for salvation, but suddenly someone’s beatings are heard through the earth: they get through, they are saved! Here, in the darkness, in the mine, on a tiny strip of firmament, Etienne and Katrina merge for the first and last time in love. After that, Katrina is forgotten, and Etienne listens to the approaching shocks: the rescuers have reached them. When they were raised to the surface, Katrina was already dead. Etienne cut the skull into an eternal rival. Together with Katrina Etienne manages to scrape out in the wall a kind of bench on which they sit over a stream that rushes along the bottom of the shaft. They spend three days underground, waiting for death and not hoping for salvation, but suddenly someone’s beatings are heard through the earth: they get through, they are saved! Here, in the darkness, in the mine, on a tiny strip of firmament, Etienne and Katrina merge for the first and last time in love. After that, Katrina is forgotten, and Etienne listens to the approaching shocks: the rescuers have reached them. When they were raised to the surface, Katrina was already dead. but suddenly someone’s beatings are heard through the thickness of the earth: they are being pierced, they are being saved! Here, in the darkness, in the mine, on a tiny strip of firmament, Etienne and Katrina merge for the first and last time in love. After that, Katrina is forgotten, and Etienne listens to the approaching shocks: the rescuers have reached them. When they were raised to the surface, Katrina was already dead. but suddenly someone’s beatings are heard through the thickness of the earth: they are being pierced, they are being saved! Here, in the darkness, in the mine, on a tiny strip of firmament, Etienne and Katrina merge for the first and last time in love. After that, Katrina is forgotten, and Etienne listens to the approaching shocks: the rescuers have reached them. When they were raised to the surface, Katrina was already dead.

Recovering, Etienne leaves the village. He bids farewell to the widow Mae, who, having lost her husband and daughter, goes to work in the mine – the puller. In all the mines, still recently striking, work is boiling. And the deaf strokes of the kyle, it seems to Etienne, come from beneath the burgeoning spring land and accompany every step of it.


E. Zola’s Zherminal in brief