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What Germinal teaches about France in the late 1800s (late 19th century) is that, like England and the United States, France's workers were struggling under the impoverishment imposed by mining and industrial bosses. This is expressed in the Marxist theme that, with the bourgeoisie in power, the workers have nothing to do but accept the meager wages offered or suffer death or disfigurement from accident and injury.
Underneath the blind acceptance inherited from previous generations and the inborn sense of discipline that is bending her neck to the yoke, a shift has thus taken place, for now she is certain that the injustice cannot go on. (La Maheude, Chapter 6)
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