Germinal: Applying Maslow's Theory Of Actualization

693 words - 3 pages

Rampant child rape, indiscreet public sex, gangs of thieving children, mobs of murderous men and women, these are the images that characterize the mining community set forth in Germinal, by Emile Zola. The graphic images presented by Zola leaves the reader wondering about a society that could allow such harsh conditions for their young. Everyone worked yet they could afford not meat but just bread from their earnings. Food was scarce and the only activity besides work was sex. The workload increased at any time and the worker was at the absolute mercy of the manager or owner of the mine where he worked. These conditions led to the revolution of the mining community. According to Dr. Abraham Maslow's theory of self-actualization, residents of the mining community, fictionalized in Germinal, could never attain success in their revolution because their minimum needs (labeled deficient needs by Maslow) were not met, making them unable to achieve actualization, where attitudes and habits of success are found.

Germinal spotlights a wanderer who comes upon a mining town in search of work. He learns the ways of the mining industry and community. The community has very liberal rules about sexuality. It was not uncommon to read of young girls being sexualized early because there was nothing else to do. The establishment of a relationship is a male taking a female in the carnal sense. Permission was not asked or given or protested; it was their way of life. The protagonist becomes a voice of protest at the slave wages, unsafe working conditions, and a champion of pro-union activities. This rebellion of the French mine workers was a dismal failure. People simply starved to death while striking or went mad with hunger and gave in for preservation's sake. In the end, the rebellion died but seeded the community with rebellious ideals for the proletarian battles to come.

The society of mining communities could not elevate themselves because they were instinctually combating the deficiencies of...

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