Study Guide

The Red and the Black Part 1, Chapter 3

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Part 1, Chapter 3

A Priest

  • We look in on a guy named Monsieur Appert, who has been sent from Paris to meet with a local priest named Father Chélan.
  • It sounds like the two of them need to visit the prison on some mysterious business. The Father seems especially annoyed about something that's going on.
  • Monsieur Appert visits the prisons with Chélan. He never says a word the whole time.
  • When the two of them visit the prison a second time that day, the guard says he's received orders not to let them in. Father Chélan scolds him until he lets them pass.
  • Meanwhile, we find out that the mayor, Monsieur de Rênal, and another man named Valenod want to get Chélan removed from the district because he doesn't play ball with them politically.
  • When the two tell Chélan the news, he answers that he'll never leave the community.
  • He'll live there even in retirement just to shame de Rênal and Valenod about what they've done. For crying out loud, the guy is 80 years old.
  • Later on, the mayor's wife asks him what harm it could do to let Chélan keep his job.
  • But the conversation quickly turns to the fact that the mayor wants a special tutor to teach their children. It's a matter of pride, since having a private tutor is a symbol of wealth just like owning a Porsche or a big house.
  • The mayor is eager to have the town talking about how well off he is.
  • The person the mayor wants to hire is the son of the sawmill owner, Sorel.
  • The narrator gives us a short description of Madame de Rênal, telling us that she's a beautiful woman who can't admit to herself that she finds her husband boring.
  • She has never known anything other than obedience and shyness, so she can't even imagine what love is supposed to look like.

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