The Red and the Black: A Novel of Ambition and Destiny

In the introduction to Chapter 13 of the novel “The Red and the Black”, Stendhal wrote a famous sentence: “The novel is a mirror in the journey of life.” “The Red and the Black” is like a mirror, in which everyone will find himself shadow. For me, this novel is more like a personal business, which originated from a program “Half the Sky” hosted by CCTV host Zhang Yue.

The guest of a certain program is a migrant worker from Hebei. She has been in Guangdong all year round and wants to earn more money through labor and change her destiny. At the age of 27, she was already an “old girl” in the eyes of her parents and villagers. After being frantically urged to marry, she returned to the village where she was born to marry.

All the dowries were purchased by the girl with her own wages. The wedding was very decent and beautiful in the eyes of the villagers, which made her feel proud. Among the many dowry items, there is one thing that is very special, and that is a desk lamp.

Zhang Yue asked her: “Why do you bring a desk lamp?” The girl said: “After I returned to the village, I knew I would never go out again. With this desk lamp, sitting alone under the light, I will feel that I still have a small world, instead of being completely imprisoned in this land.”

On the day the girl got married, she wore a red and black striped sweater. Zhang Yue asked her again: “Why don’t you wear a bright red dress like others?” The girl replied: “I know a very famous novel “Red and Black”. It’s the outside world that I will never be able to reach. So on my wedding day, I chose to wear this dress, which is my ‘red and black’.”

Yes, not all people have the opportunity to choose, and not all people can change their destiny through hard work. But people always have a little different hope, just like this girl, the “poetry and distance” in her heart is “red and black”.

The masterpiece “Red and Black” was not accepted by people when it was born. When it was first published in 1830, it sat in bookstores with little interest. Because the writing was too sharp and straightforward, the views and the fate of the protagonist in the novel were not recognized by the society at that time.

The hero, Julien, is a handsome young man who wants to change his destiny and tries his best to achieve class leap. But his ambition is greater than his ability, and he always wants to achieve counterattack in life by taking shortcuts. When the bubble of life burst, he couldn’t accept that he was beaten back to his original shape and lived the life of a small person again, so he finally chose to give up his life.

Everyone has their own “red” and “black” in their hearts. In “The Red and the Black”, being ambitious is not a sin, and the meaning of struggle certainly cannot be obliterated. Julien has youthful vitality and hardworking spirit, and of course, he also has a heavy and evil side.

Human nature is complex, often half sea water, half flame; half angel, half devil. It is not a vice to have vanity, but it is shameful to commit vice for the gratification of vanity. There are so many forks in life, facing the choice between “red” and “black”, choosing how to go will lead to completely different endings. No matter how far we go, we must never forget why we set out in the first place.

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