If we ignore the ‘human beast’ in him, Jacques Lantier is certainly an amiable young man. He was handsome, tall, with strong built muscles which his job as a train driver required. Despite of having born from poor parents, Jacques was well educated, and he was a skillful engineer and driver too. His manly appearance and his shy and polite manner attracted quite many women.
The most interesting side of our main character in this book (for me, at least) is his love for his train engine: La Lison (the name he gave ‘her’). Being that, Jacques could have been made example of man who really loves what he’s doing. Throughout the story Jacques was always discipline at work, and he disliked his fireman’s manner although he tolerated him as long as he did his job well. Unfortunately, Jacques had also a dark side; a compulsive behavior triggered by sexual passion that he could not control. It’s a pity, because he was genuinely a kind man.
I found Jacques was very attentive towards his aunt; he visited her whenever he was around, and he listened to her sorrows. No wonder, her poor aunty loved him even more than her only daughter. I was quite relieved by how Jacques could listen to his conscience when Séverine persuaded him to kill Roubaud. It only proved that Jacques was not a real murderer, he just had an illness, and could not control it when the seizure came.
In general, I think Jacques had a problem with his explosive passion, just like his brother Claude. So the cure would only be mildly taking everything in life and maintain the balance of his every aspect. It’s much easier to say than to apply in action, of course, not mentioning that Jacques was very attractive. In the end, there was not any good choices for Jacques’ future, and I think what Zola made him in the end is the best for him. Poor Jacques…..