Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all.
Germinal expresses outrage at the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.
Micah says: "I re-read this novel whenever I'm feeling burned out. Zola captures the inner logic of a revolutionary uprising with an uncanny ability to see the event from multiple perspectives. Brilliant!"