Chapters 1 and 2
* The poor town of Thies is introduced, along with its residents who are mostly train workers.
* The train workers are considering a strike.
* When the strike is decided upon, some workers are unsure of the strike but go along with it.
* On the day of the strike, soldiers arrive and attack the crowd, killing a child.
Chapters 3 and 4
* A union battle leaves several members dead, and the union co-leaders decide to stop all action when management won't negotiate.
* Dejean meets with deputies to plan how to end the strike.
* Dejean decides to start his own rival union.
* Ramatoulaye becomes frustrated about her inability to feed herself.
* Ramatoulaye meets three women who tell her how they were able to get food with the help of an attractive woman.
Chapters 5 and 6
* At the women's compound, Mame Sofi cons the water seller out of his water and pitcher.
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