Study Guide

The Red and the Black Part 1, Chapter 6

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Part 1, Chapter 6

Boredom

  • When she's leaving her house, Madame de Rênal notices a young man approaching her house. She asks him what he wants, and he tells her he's the new tutor. Madame is relieved to see that the tutor is nothing like she imagined.
  • Nonetheless, Madame makes Julien promise that he won't be cruel to her children. He promises.
  • While they talk, Madame de Rênal becomes obsessed with Julien's beauty, which is almost kind of feminine to her.
  • Julien apologizes in advance for anything he might do in the next few days to offend Madame. He admits that he has always been poor and isn't aware of rich people's customs.
  • As he explains himself, Julien becomes aware of Madame's beauty. He thinks about kissing her hand out of respect (yeah, right). Then he does.
  • Monsieur de Rênal shows up and sits Julien down for orientation. He forbids him from having visitors and tells him that he'll have a decent future if he does a good job.
  • The mayor takes Julien to the local tailor and has some good clothes made for him. By the time he's ready to meet the kids, he looks like a completely different person.
  • He has even changed his attitude to seem more commanding and severe. He meets the kids and tells them that they'll need to know their lessons if they're going to please him.
  • Julien gives the eldest child a copy of the Bible and asks the kid to pick any random passage. Julien then recites from memory every single passage that the kid picks.
  • Pretty soon, all of the servants in the house have gathered at the door to witness Julien's talents. Everyone is astonished.
  • The mayor is overjoyed when one of his rivals, Mr. Valenod, walks in during Julien's demonstration. He feels like he can rub his success in Valenod's face.
  • All this time, Julien makes sure to hide the fact that he's a great admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, a former dictator of France.