I'm on page 362/532. At this point in the book, the miners on strike are terrorizing the bourgeois declaring "We want bread!" M. Hennebeau, manager of the Montsou mine, has a cheating wife and an unhappy life. When the strikers come around he's angry with them because he would "gladly have swapped his fat salary just to have their thick skin and their unproblematic sex." I guess the grass is always greener on the other side!