Part 5, Chapter 2 Summary

Catherine has been working the Jean-Bart mine for an hour and she is already drenched with sweat and has to stop rolling tubs to wipe her face. They are working at a depth of seven hundred and eighty-seven meters, only three kilometers from the pit bottom. This is the part of the mine that makes experienced miners turn pale and lower their voices, as if they are talking about hell. The coal burns red and fierce here, and people walking on the surface above can see sulphurous flames and smell foul gases below them.

The heat not only stifles Catherine; it makes her afraid, remembering terrifying stories from her childhood. She pushes her tub to the relay person, a woman, and then rolls her empty tub back.


(The entire section is 771 words.)