It can be argued that author Zola presented Etienne Lantier as not only the miners' best hope but the peoples' best hope. One piece of evidence can be seen in the fact that, despite the fact that both Rasseneur and Souvarine shared Lantier's views and wanted to fight for the miner's rights, only Lantier became the actual leader of the strike. Rasseneur was even very much against the strike. However, sadly Lantier's strike manifested into a violent mob, just as Rasseneur warned. Regardless, even though Lantier was unable to control the people he was leading to prevent violence from breaking out, we learn by the end of the novel that, even though his own strike was unsuccessful at bringing change, the strike he started began strikes all over France. Together all the workers all over France are banding together in unions to take matters into their own hands. Lantier knows that a revolution is brewing, and he leaves to join Pluchart in revolutionary efforts in Paris.
In great contrast to Lantier, in a last effort to put an end to the Company's wrongdoings, Souvarine actually even sabotages the mine, trapping and killing many minors. His point was to prove exactly how disastrous the Company's lack of adherence to safety concerns could be. However, in wanting to destroy the Company, he also does not care what people he destroys along with the Company. He only cares about leaving his mark, making his voice be heard, as we see when the voice of the narrator relays his thoughts, "... he had left his mark; the frightened world would know that the beast had not died a natural death" (Part 7, Ch. 2). Hence, since only Lantier truly cares for others' well being, not Souvarine, it can be said that only Lantier best represents the miners', and even the peoples', best hope.