Study Guide

The Red and the Black Part 2, Chapter 16

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Part 2, Chapter 16

One O'Clock in the Morning

  • Julien locks his bedroom door for the night, sneaks out into the garden, and finds the ladder that Mathilde has left for him. He climbs up into her room carrying a pistol.
  • Julien runs to her and tries to kiss her. But she pushes him away and tells him not to act shamefully.
  • Mathilde gets him to let the ladder leaning against the window back down into the garden. Now he has no way of getting out of the room except the door.
  • Mathilde admits that she invited him to her room in order to test his courage.
  • After some small talk, they have sex.
  • Neither one of them is satisfied by it. For Mathilde, she's just acting the way books say she's supposed to. For Julien, the sex isn't as good as what he had with Madame de RĂȘnal.
  • Julien sneaks out the next morning.
  • He gets on his horse and rides out to one of the forests surrounding Paris. Mathilde goes to church and starts to wonder whether she actually loves him, or just thinks she does.