Etienne Lantier, the protagonist in Germinal by Emile Zola, supports the miner's best hope in overthrowing the unfair mine owners and their unfair treatment of the miners. The miners are forced to face long hours, with unfair wages, in the unsafe mines.
Lantier, a Frenchman from Marchiennes, travels to Montsou looking for work. It is here, after he becomes a miner, that he realizes the unfair and unsafe working conditions of the miners. He decides that he must do something to change the circumstances of the unfortunate miners.
Lantier proves to be the best hope for the miners. First, Lantier recognizes the problematic circumstances the miners are in, and he voices these concerns openly. While he is not the only one who recognizes the problems, he is the first to openly voice his concerns.
He is also able to persuade the other miners to strike. Many of the miners, although sick and struggling, accept their circumstances. Lantier persuades them to seek out better lives for themselves.
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