Part One: The opening scene shows the interior of the squalid little home, where Gervaise has waited all night for Lantier's return, but when the latter enters the place, he casts the tearful woman aside with a gesture of ill-humor, begging her to leave him in peace. Gervaise takes her bundle of clothes and starts for the public wash house, where, after being assigned to a place, she begins her toil. A young woman named Virginie enters, and taking her place at a tub next to Gervaise, taunts the latter about the loss of her lover, for it is Virginie who has supplanted Gervaise in the affections of Lantier. Soon a little boy arrives at the laundry with a note which he hands to Gervaise, and the latter on opening it reads the following soul-crushing words: "I have had enough of your jealous outbursts, and have decided to leave you. Don't worry about me: I have found consolation. Lantier." The disconsolate woman's rival stands by with a triumphant sneer on her face and under her breath ...
Moving Picture World synopsis