Germinal is the thirteenth novel in Zola's twenty novel series collectively referred to as Les Rougon-Macquart. The series follows two families as they navigate the tumultuous terrain of the Second French Empire (1852-1870). Later on in the series, Etienne has a daughter. Zola's naturalism plays an outsized role in the novels, and he chooses to explore the role that the environment has on the development of Frenchmen in an age of rapid industrialization and imperial expansion. At the same time, he analyzes the impact that genes and heredity can have on an individual, most notably in Germinal through the violent mannerisms that Etienne is prone to when drunk - the legacy of a larger familial tendency that he inherits through his genes.