“That’s what this… young man”

Julien Sorel – the protagonist of the novel – a nineteen-year-old youth, generously gifted by nature with mental abilities and an ardent heart. He is a son of a plebeian by origin. His father is a former peasant. To the beginning of the story, the old man Sorel is the owner of the sawmill. He was a man rude, cruel and pathologically greedy.

Plebeian by birth, Julien Sorel is not at all like his father and older brothers. He suffocates in the atmosphere of his father’s house, where the head of the family gives his children slaps and slaps.

Julien constantly felt a special dislike of his father, who genuinely wondered why people like his younger son existed at all. He alone irritated old Sorel. To all other things, Julien had one more, most disgusting, from the point of view of his father, vice: he had a fiery passion for reading. “There was nothing more hateful for the old Sorel,” the writer notes and adds: “He himself could not read.”


it is perfectly understandable why Julien desperately tries to escape not just from the house of the hated father, but also beyond his class, into a different environment, into a different life that seems fabulously beautiful to him and which he has been raving since childhood.

So in the mind of young Julien the dream of happiness arises and begins to search for ways that will lead him to the heights of glory and recognition. “From his earliest childhood, after he once saw a dragoon from the sixth regiment in long white cloaks, with black-capped helmets on his head… Julien raved about military service.” His dreams were fueled by the memories of an old regimental doctor about the battles on the Lodi Bridge, Arkolsky, near Rivoli. These stories, mainly about the Italian campaigns of 1796, he listened, dying of ecstasy, on those rare days when the retired physician “bought” it from Papa Sorel. Napoleon becomes his idol. “For many years, it seems, there was not a single hour in Julien’s life when he did not repeat to himself that Bonaparte, an unknown

and poor lieutenant, became the ruler of the world with the help of his sword.

But one day everything suddenly changed. He made his own discovery, over which he “pondered for several weeks.” And the impetus for this discovery was the accidentally heard phrase: “See how it all turned upside down!” Observant Julien could not pass by the facts, which testified that something really “turned over”. This “something” was the construction in a small Verrier of a magnificent church and the fear of a judge who was known as an honest and glorious man, before a young thirty-year-old vicar. “The construction of the church and the judgments of the magistrate suddenly opened their eyes” to Julien. He stopped talking about Napoleon and “declared that he was going to become a priest.” “When Bonaparte made me talk about myself… military prowess… was necessary, and she was in fashion.

Now, no matter where Julien was, everyone saw him with the Latin Bible in his hands, which the cure gave him. He memorized it by heart, amazed at his “new mentor.” In addition to the New Testament, the young man learned by heart the book “About the Pope” de Maistre, “equally disbelieving neither one nor the other.” He successfully played the saintly person out of himself and was ready for anything, “just to punch his way.” And his efforts were crowned with success – he was invited by the abbot of Shelan to take care of the children in the house of the mayor of Verrieres, Mr. de Renal.

In the fifth chapter of the novel, with the symbolic title “Deal”, pay attention to a very important episode. On the way to Mr. de Renal’s house, avoiding his father’s beatings, Julien enters the church and finds a scrap of printed paper there. What he read on this scrap of paper, and the holy water that he has accepted for blood on earth, plunge the young man into confusion: he is seized by secret fear.

In an epic work there are episodes that literary critics call key. In them, as in a drop of water, the whole work is reflected. In the novel “The Red and Black” episode in the church and is the key. Explaining the symbolism of this chapter, the author, as it were, pushes the reader, first, to search in the novel for the answer to the question: can Julien reach a compromise between “black” and “red”, having concluded a deal with his own conscience, betraying his own ideals, consciously stepping on the path of hypocrisy. Remember? “The paper was torn, and on the other side only the first two words of one line survived, namely:” The first step… “”. The ellipsis tells the reader that the first and second steps will follow the first. Where will they lead a young and vain plebeian?

Secondly, this episode also foreshadows a tragic denouement in the fate of the protagonist: “Finally, Julien was ashamed of her secret fear.” Am I really such a coward? – he said to himself. – To arms! “. He goes into a new life, as a battle, as a fatal fight. Julien feels that he has all the necessary qualities to win this fight: he is daring, intelligent, purposeful. Indeed, already on the first pages of the novel we see that nature has given Julien all the necessary for success. All but one: he does not have the power over time. France Restoration period in such as he does not need. He was born late. The time of such faded into oblivion. He has only one thing: either completely change, adapt, or perish. But he still hopes to survive, and only to survive, but also to conquer time. The deal took place, but will this fervent young man be able to observe all the conditions of this transaction? Can he conquer his nature? This is what the writer makes us think about, keeping the reader in constant emotional tension from the first to the last page of the novel.

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“That’s what this… young man”