Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary

The hewers are in place, one above the other: Zacharie on the bottom, then Levaque, then Chaval, and finally Maheu, who has it the worst. The men are standing on wooden planks which are there to stop the coal from falling after they cut it. As they dig, the coal drops to the boards and the men eventually disappear into the clefts they have created.

Maheu digs in thirty-five degrees with no air circulation. In order to see, he must place his lantern right next to his head, which causes his temperature to rise to fever levels. Between the water trickling down from underground springs and his sweat, he is quickly steaming like a washtub. The water drips consistently in one place; today it is his eye, but there is no...

(The entire section is 800 words.)