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The Red and the Black | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Autumn 1826

    M. de Rênal hires Julien as a tutor for his children to outdo his rival, M. de Valenod.

    Book 1, Chapter 3
  • Spring 1827

    Madame de Rênal reveals her love for Julien, and he determines to seduce her.

    Book 1, Chapter 8
  • A few weeks later

    Julien falls in love with Madame de Rênal.

    Book 1, Chapter 16
  • Autumn 1827

    M. de Rênal gets a letter about his wife's affair; Madame de Rênal tells him it is a lie.

    Book 1, Chapter 21
  • A few weeks later

    Continued gossip forces Rênal to make Julien leave town; Julien enters the seminary at Besançon.

    Book 1, Chapter 25
  • End of 1828

    Abbé Pirard gets Julien a job as secretary to the Marquis de la Mole.

    Book 1, Chapter 30
  • A few days later

    Julien visits Madame de Rênal one last time before he goes to Paris.

    Book 1, Chapter 30
  • 1829

    After the Marquis de la Mole is laid up with gout, Julien becomes his friend.

    Book 2, Chapter 7
  • Winter 1830

    Mathilde de la Mole makes bold advances, and Julien becomes her lover.

    Book 2, Chapter 16
  • Three days later

    After Mathilde treats Julien with disdain, he falls in love with her.

    Book 2, Chapter 17
  • Several weeks later

    Julien ignores Mathilde and courts Madame de Fervaques; Mathilde falls in love with him.

    Book 2, Chapter 29
  • Spring 1830

    Mathilde reveals she is pregnant and then writes this news to the Marquis de la Mole.

    Book 2, Chapter 32
  • The same day

    The Marquis de la Mole confronts Julien, and Julien invites the Marquis to kill him.

    Book 2, Chapter 33
  • Six weeks later

    The Marquis de la Mole relents and gets Julien a commission as a lieutenant in the army.

    Book 2, Chapter 34
  • About a week later

    The Marquis receives a letter from Madame de Rênal denouncing Julien's duplicity.

    Book 2, Chapter 35
  • The next day

    Julien rushes to Verrières and shoots Madame de Rênal.

    Book 2, Chapter 35
  • The same day

    Julien is jailed and then rejoices to learn Madame de Rênal is alive.

    Book 2, Chapter 36
  • A few days later

    Mathilde visits Julien in jail and gives Frilair money to help her rescue her beloved.

    Book 2, Chapter 38
  • A few days later

    Madame de Rênal begins visiting Julien; he agrees to appeal if she will spend every day with him.

    Book 2, Chapter 43
  • Two months later

    Julien is guillotined, and Madame de Rênal dies three days later. Mathilde buries Julien's head.

    Book 2, Chapter 45

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Book 1, Chapters 1–5 The novel is told in third-person omniscient narration, in which the narrator sometimes refers to himself as "I" and s... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 6–10 Madame de Rênal worries the tutor will be harsh with her sons, but seeing Julien allays her fears. She notices Julien'... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 11–15 In the evening Julien joins the family in the garden. Under cover of dark, he caresses Madame de Rênal's hand, feeling... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 16–20 Luckily for Julien, the transports of love masks his silliness in the eyes of his beloved. Julien conducts his love af... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 21–25 The mayor reflects on his wife's possible infidelity and realizes he has not one trusted friend to confide in, since h... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 26–30 Following his habitual pattern, Julien views everyone at the seminary as an enemy to be conquered. He chooses Abbé Pir... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 1–5 On his way to his new post in Paris, Julien happens to ride in the mail coach with two liberal-leaning men discussing ... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 6–10 Julien gets into a verbal altercation with a man in a café and asks for his address. The man throws cards in Julien's ... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 11–15 The narrator notes Mathilde derives her power not only from her social standing and beauty but also from her rapierlik... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 16–20 When Julien climbs into Mathilde's room, he is not sure how to behave. He has brought his pistol with him in case of a... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 21–25 The Marquis takes Julien to a secret meeting of highly influential Ultras. His job is to take notes, memorize a conden... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 26–30 Julien proceeds with his seduction almost mechanically; he begins copying Korasoff's love letters in his own hand and ... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 31–35 When Julien comes from the opera he is overjoyed, kissing the silly letters that helped him win Mathilde back. He beli... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 36–40 Julien is carried off to prison. Luckily his shot has not mortally wounded Madame de Rênal. She has been suffering bec... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 41–45 On the day of the trial, Mathilde gives the Vicar-general a letter from the all-powerful bishop requesting Julien's ac... Read More
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