Hired in the Montsou mines, Étienne Lantier meets the Maheu family and falls in love with their daughter Catherine. She is courted by Chaval, a brutal worker. When the Compagnie des Mines lowered wages, Étienne, already outraged by this misery, rose up. Dreaming of justice, he pushes for a strike. Weeks go by, the starving strikers struggle, but, victims of violent repression, resign themselves to returning to work.