Study Guide

The Red and the Black Part 2, Chapter 20

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Part 2, Chapter 20

The Japanese Vase

  • Julien goes to dinner feeling depressed because Mathilde is ignoring him again. He spends his time observing the high class people who come to dinner, and reminds himself that Mathilde has done things with him that she hasn't with them.
  • Mathilde comes to him in the library later that day and says she knows that he wants to speak to her. She tells him flat out that she no longer loves him. She follows this by unleashing a hurricane of insults on Julien, calling him a poor nobody.
  • Julien tries to run away, but Mathilde catches him by the arm and holds him.
  • Later on, Julien is so preoccupied with his romantic drama that he knocks over a Japanese blue vase owned by Madame de La Mole. Mathilde is delighted to see the blue vase break because she has always found it ugly.
  • Julien says that he is sorry the vase has been destroyed, just like his heart. No one knows what this second part means except for Mathilde.