Study Guide

The Red and the Black Part 2, Chapter 17

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Part 2, Chapter 17

An Old Sword

  • Mathilde doesn't come to dinner the day after having sex with Julien. She sees him in the drawing room later that night, but doesn't look at him.
  • Three days go by and Mathilde avoids him. Finally, he follows her into the garden and demands her attention. She is cold and bitter toward him.
  • Julien admits to himself that he's actually in love with Mathilde.
  • He decides to leave for his trip to Languedoc after all. He goes to the de La Moles' library to tell his employer he's leaving. He finds Mathilde there instead and argues with her.
  • She says she's sorry she gave her virginity to the first young man who came along. This wounds Julien's pride badly.
  • Julien grabs an old sword off the wall, intending to kill Mathilde. He recovers his senses before doing it, though.
  • She's impressed by his boldness, since this is the kind of gesture a crazed lover would make in one of her novels. She realizes that she's falling for him again.
  • After Mathilde has run off, the Marquis walks into the library and hears about Julien's departure. He says the he needs Julien to stick around for other business, though.