Reproduction and Poverty in Germinal
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Emile Zola came up with a literature movement called naturalism, which was a modification of realism as it stresses more on careful research in coming up with formulated settings and further information to be portrayed. Apparently, Zola’s theories, which basically argued that peoples’, or rather workers’, poor state was being self-caused since the impoverished had a propensity of procreating too much and therefore their environment and heredity was responsible in determining their respective actions. He postulated that characters were representative forms instead of them being unique individuals. Zola’s novel Germinal generally depicts quite a range of aspects pertaining the life of workers in France during the last half of 19th century (Munro 2010).
The novel reveals a graphic representation of desolation of the miserable lives experienced by the town miners together with their families. The main themes surrounding Zola’s novel include a gulf between the rich and the poor as the poor continue to get poorer while the richer continued to amass wealth and oppress the have-nots. Another social theme explored in the novel is corruption on senior positions with exploiting the society as well as uneconomical extravagance subsequent to extensive grinding poverty (Munro 2010).
A considerable part of research exhibits the relations between the underprivileged and their family configuration from one cohort to the subsequent one. However, it leaves untied some key questions in relation to the propositions of these links for summative level change. Therefore, to what level does intergenerational bequest influence the tendency in poverty along with single paternity over time? The paper aims at examining the issue of reproduction and poverty as portrayed in the Germinal novel and, furthermore, how the current country’s population structure reveals the differentials in fertility rate or rather procreation rate between the two major social classes in the society.
The arguments passed across are that the underprivileged people who experience serious deficiency in basic requirements of life and seemingly see little prospect for their kid’s education in addition to other life opportunities sense little concern in managing their family dimension. For such families, the number of children they may perhaps bear does not matter considering the fact that the force of their deficiency as considered by average earnings to poverty quotient and more so food utilization to survival ratio slightly pick up as the quantity of their children falls. Therefore, suggestions reveal that for family planning programs to achieve something, the policy has to incorporate strategies opposing poverty (Scurr 2010).
Zola narrates a tale of regarding poverty incapacitated miners within a diminutive French settlement called Montsou. The novel starts on with Etienne who apparently is a jobless mechanic who stumbles upon Le Voreux, which was a coalmine remote to the town. The novel mainly covers people’s struggles and basically the miners’ lives. The main characters in the narrative seem to be faced with relationships, human nature, social justice, and socialism in numerous aspects of their lives and the miners evolve as well as transform together with their values and ideas which expand and progress (Zola p.2).
Communalism is an effort to balance production and material wealth by the people or government. Plainly put, communism aims at bringing the mine workers mutually with the ruling upper class, thus making life equal and fair. The novel focuses on inequality coupled with numerous extremes ranging from mental to economic. The issue of socialism is bred by Etienne, who fights for a further equal society, making him fight for the poor miners and embrace more labor to capitalism (Munro 2010). The two extremes present include capitalism versus socialism ideologies, and he even organizes strikes so as to force the employers to recognize the workers and offer them higher wages. Many researchers tend to think that it’s really useless for Etienne to revolve since nothing could really change, as noted by La Maheude. She further states that the poverty could not be really changed, as everyone, once being young, supposes they will become happy in adulthood, but this visions does not transform to a good life since there are numerous forces working in all directions to ensure that one remains poor while they continue being your masters.
The issue of social justice engulfs the whole book whereby the workers are seen to slave over barrels of coal, and in return they are awarded with some bread and potatoes. The people seem to yearn for change by forcing the mine owners to offer justice and remunerate them reasonably, and, therefore, they are blaming the bosses for their tainting poverty. The subject of the human nature seems to rule the people as well, as there are two classes existing in every society, just like in this town, where there are the bourgeoisie who are the ruling class, and the poor section of the community, who apparently are the workers. Even in today’s society, there is the same classification, where the wealthy rule the world.
Demanding justice by the miners come up as a manifestation of a human nature, where people will always demand justice in all the fields – in their work places, in society, and even in the sphere of constitution. The miners acted due to their economical situation, and their deeds were mostly driven by their deprived living conditions. Catherine, who seems to have intimate relations with Etienne and Chaval, is supposedly amongst the seven children born by her mother, who apparently depended on her kids (Zola p. 271). Nonetheless, the child labor in the mines was a mere exploitation with scanty or no wages at all. This indicates that the mother was in dire need of financial support all the times to support her family, yet she was responsible for having seven children even though she completely understood the consequences of having a large family while having no resources to support it. The poverty in the family even makes Chaval take advantage of Catherine to seize her away from her family even against her will.
The author apparently illustrates the life of the wealthy bourgeoisie who have adequate food and a comfortable residence; while their kids are busy painting or learning to dance, and they aren’t sexually exploited.
Their life is absolutely different from the children of the town miners, who have to struggle to stay alive, and their seemingly unchanging lives despite the fact that the miners revolted to be given justice in employment. The issue of reproduction is quite essential for life; but the miners are seen to take girls who are at a tender young age with the aim of starting a family and continuing further the ferocious poverty cycle. The relationships and human nature developing throughout the novel are seen to revolve around economical, social, and mentals state of the miners. Even thought they are working, their poverty continues to haunt them.
In the United States, the first data which showed a reduction in the country’s poverty rate was in 1973 as it recorded an 11.1% rate; the rate rose to 15.2% in 1983 while in 2000 it declined to 11.3%. This percentage may seem to be low, but the reality on the ground is that the country suffers a poverty scale of 15 million citizens as of today. The government has enacted numerous programs ranging from food stamps to social security with the aim of keeping about 40 million citizens away from poverty (National Poverty Center | University of Michigan).
The government is to a higher extent responsible for encouraging its citizens to procreate due to the allowances and assistances it offers to each child born. People seem to take the advantage offered by the government to procreate more, since ultimately they would get aid from the government. Even single mothers have been on the rise citing the handouts provided by the government while they forget that the low waged job is not even enough to support them, let alone the child. The same people fail to understand that they are living under low wages and therefore enter into a marathon of procreation. According to the United States Census Bureau (2011), the calculated poverty line for a family with four members (2 kids, and 2 adults) was those who earned less than USD 23,021. Moreover, the basic wants for a family consisting of four members in rural Nebraska was recorded at USD 31, 080 while that of Boston, Massachusetts, was USD 64,656. All these data is always released to the public, and everyone is able to gauge their earning strength and conclude on the amount of children they ought to bear with respect to their income, but some citizens ignore this data and go on procreating many children, which they are sure they won’t manage to raise ("Poverty in the United States: A Snapshot).
Apparently, public education is always aired all over the media, even in mainstream media and social media, about the issues of birth control for controlling and preventing unwanted pregnancies. One can’t argue that people don’t come across these campaigns all over the media platform, and yet they go forward and decide to have many children even though they are aware of their financial status. Nonetheless, the underprivileged might be financially challenged since they may be unable to afford contraceptives and even couple this with religious beliefs preventing this, since religion advocates for massive procreation to fill the Earth. Therefore, it is to a large extent the blame of the poor for their continued misery, which is self-caused since they already know their monetary constrains and yet continue to procreate (National Poverty Center).
The country is also experiencing low-wage jobs along with many families being headed by single parents thus making it extremely intricate for them to survive on their earnings from the jobs that are normally available. In addition, lately there has been a vanishing of the financial assistance continued for the low earning mothers with children as welfare has been a contributing factor to the increasing poverty. The economy has been stagnant to have better paying jobs due to the poor employment policies. As much as the blame can be attributed to the government, which is dwindling welfare and social security, the underprivileged citizens who are continually having more and more children are wholly to be blamed for their soaring poverty (Edelman).
The Germinal novel raises the issues of capitalism and reveals the impact of capitalists on the society. More themes like equality and socialism props up whereby the miners fought for fair share of wages and apparently aimed at eliminating slavery together with poverty, but they seemed to ignore the fact that bearing many children was also responsible for forcing them to remain poor for the rest of their lives. The relationships among the miners were basically influenced by the situations they lived in. Moreover, the miners were merely the products of their circumstances, which made them remain poor even though they were working in the mines.
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