John, a miner like his father, is the eldest son of the Phillips family. He and his father argue constantly.
He is a handsome, charismatic tear-away, something of a local hero. Ending his relationship with Hannah, he finds a soul mate in Dan, who urges John to lead the miners. A pit accident in which a child dies is a turning point in John’s life.
He struggles to come to terms with his father’s role as Overman at the Lan and blames him for what happens underground on that fateful day. It is John’s passion that drives the story to its dramatic conclusion.