The Unbearable Lightness of beingBy Milan KunderaReading Log byJessie Conlisk1-29-2018SynopsisIn the Novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Weight, Milan Kundera questions the meaning of everything in life and the effect it takes, like a butterfly effect.
He believes that there is a heaviness on man’s shoulders, for once a man has set down a path there is no going backward and no second chance for there is only one chance at life. The exposition starts out from the point of view of the protagonist, Tomas, who is a surgeon in Prague. Tomas meets a waitress, Tereza.
Tereza’s mom left her and her father when she was very young, but when her father got into a bad situation, she had to go live with her mother, She despises her mother for her openness about sex and the body, for she hates her own. The narrative hook occurs when Tereza becomes very ill. Tomas barely knows her, but cares for her. Once she got better she left Prague for home only to return later with “her entire life packed up into her suitcase”.
Tomas shows discomfort to this for he has avoided an emotional relationship since he divorced his wife that he was married to for only two years and lost custody of his son. Eventually, Thomas comes to terms with the fact that he is in love with Tereza and marries her, and gets her a dog. Tereza’s past with her mother continues to haunt her, and she wants to find uniqueness in each person rather than similarities in their bodies.
The rising action occurs when Prague is invaded by Soviet tanks. This establishes a direct control of the Communist regime, which puts Tomas in danger because of a paper that he had written long ago. Tomas is in a sexual relationship with another woman, Sabina, and Tereza decides to become friends with her rather than despise her. Tereza develops her love for photography with help from Sabina during this time period, and uses what is going on around her as an inspiration for her photography journal that she keeps. For their safety, Tomas and Tereza, move to Zurich. Tereza is miserable in Zurich for there is nothing for her to do and her photography has rejected so when she receives a phone call from a women looking for Tomas she decides to leave with her dog.
When Tomas returns to Tereza after being with another Woman, he finds a note from her saying that she is aware that she is a burden to him so she left for Prague, but she won’t be able to return for the Czech borders have been shut down. The Climax occurs just after Tereza leaves. At first, Tomas is happy to have this new freedom, but then he decided that he missed Tereza too much and went after her.
Tomas thinks about how his life with Tereza was completely by chance, and how he would be on an extremely different path if they never were to meet. From this point, the author shows more of Sabin and her other lover, Franz, an already married man with a love for music. Sabina, on the other hand, thinks of the music as just noise.
Franz believes that darkness will help him reach further and experience more, while Sabina wants a balance between lightness and darkness in her life. They both have very different outlooks on parades; Franz thinks of them as a time to become deeply connected with people and what is going on around him, but Sabina despises them. Many other different things in life lay before the two of them, but their opinions are always polar opposite.
Franz’s wife holds a dinner party for local artists, and is very rude to Sabina. Franz tells his wife about the affair and leaves her for Sabina. Sabina falls into her usual patterns of betrayal and decides to leave Franz unknowingly. Franz is shocked when he finds that Sabina has left, but soon starts a relationship with a student of his. In the falling action, Tereza still hates her body and starts flirting with men to boost her self-esteem. After a nightmare she has about Tomas she has an affair with a stranger.
Tereza comes to the realization that her and Tomas are being watched. Tomas’s boss is trying to get Tomas to retract the article long ago comparing Czech Communists to Oedipus. He refuses to do so and loses his job. Tomas decides that the best thing to do is lay low so he becomes a window washer. As time passes, Tomas is in contact with his son, Simon, who lives in the country. Tereza and Tomas die in an automobile accident. Sabina, now living in Paris, finds out that Tereza and Tomas are dead.In the Resolution, Simon comes in contact with Sabina who wishes for cremation when she dies.
A group of men mug Franz which leads to his death. He sees his wife in the hospital once more before he dies.Point of ViewIn the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the author, Milan Kundera, tells the story as a narration but slips into different characters point of view. Kundera challenges the idea that every move made in life is permanent, and you are blind while making it. Kundera talks about how each character that he created could very well be a representation of his life if he had made different decisions in the past.
Instead of showing one person’s specific path, the author chooses to switch back and forth between different characters point of view.When reading, the reader gets a direct message, from Kundera sharing his view on life and how it is a story that is only to be told once. This adds a level of depth to the novel because it focuses the reader to think about how certain events could lead the characters to where they end up. For example, when Simon delivered the news to Sabina that Tereza and Tomas are dead, the reader is left to figure out what has happened to them until the point of view focuses back on them and retells what is going on from their perspective. Kundera expresses that, “We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.
“(Kundera 1.3.15). In many scenarios in the story, the characters are faced with a decision that might seem minor at the moment but can lead to them ultimately dying. If Tereza and Tomas had never met, they might have lived to see old age, but the point that the author is trying to get across is there is no way of knowing how the future will unravel.Kundera talks about the possibility of writing your own future knowing exactly how everything will turn out. To him, this story is like writing his own future for he narrates, “The characters in my novels are my own unrealized possibilities. That is why I am equally fond of them all and equally horrified by them.
Each one has crossed a border that I myself have circumvented. It is that crossed border (the border beyond which my own “I” ends) which attracts me most. For beyond that border begins the secret the novel asks about. The novel is not the author’s confession; it is an investigation of human life in the trap the world has become.” (Kundera 5.15.
7). Kundera explains that no one will ever know what opportunities they will have, or paths they can take because all humans know is what has happened to them in the past, and what is going on in the present. There is no way of being able to tell what the future has to hold because nothing ever repeats itself.
This intrigues Kundera, for he is saying that there is a border that needs to be crossed to move on to the next step in life, but no one will ever know when it is, or what it holds.One major part of the story that becomes the center of interest for a while is the suitcase. The suitcase symbolizes a change that is about to occur in both Tomas’s and Tereza’s life, and arguably the life of all the people they come to contact within the years to come.
In this scene, Tereza meets Tomas in Prague, saying that she was in town on “business”. Kundera writes of this scene from both of their perspectives to emphasize the importance of this scene, and how it will affect the rest of their lives. When she arrived, “The two of them got into his car, which was parked in front of the house, and drove to the station. There he claimed the suitcase (it was large and enormously heavy) and took it and her home.” (Kundera 1.
4.5). If this action were to never take place, different events would not have occurred, and they probably would not have died in the end, for neither of them would still be in Prague.The point of view of the novel impacted the story tremendously for it allows the reader to be able to see the story through the author’s mind and understand their perspective. Without the narration, the story would be told just as any other, and it would not have the impact that it does.
Kundera expresses how all of the characters are just a reflection of possibilities that one’s future holds. He talks about a border that keeps one from seeing what they are getting themselves into until they fully emerge. He tells the story from multiple character’s perspectives, which adds emphasis on its importance, and shows signs of foreshadowing. Lastly, he shows how something so minor, such as a suitcase, could alter the path of one’s life so much.ThemeIn Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera argues the meaning of lightness and weight by associating them with their heaviness in life.
This topic becomes the theme throughout the majority of the novel. The lightness, as Kundera puts it, is seeing that ultimately there is no purpose in life, so to be it the light, is just finding peace and beauty in what is present. On the other hand for weight, Kundera believes that there is only one life for everyone, and since no one has anything to put their life in comparison to, their life is meaningless. The unbearable lightness of being represents those who are stuck in the darkness, for all they feel is the heaviness of life. Kundera illustrates his characters to be examples of people affected by the weight of lightness. This is shown in Franz, he feels free when Sabina leaves him and is in bliss in the lightness, whereas Sabina is suffering from it.
Once again, Kunder brings up this figurative border that separates people from their future and leaves them with many unanswered questionsFor a good portion of the novel Sabina’s and Franz’s relationship become the center of interest. Both of them make sacrifices to be together, but once it works out and they truly have each other, realization hits them and it now occurs to them how tied down to each other they are. When Sabina leaves Fanz says, “What was important was the golden footprint, the magic footprint she had left on his life and no one could ever remove. Just before disappearing from his horizon, she had slipped him Hercules’ broom, and he had used it to sweep everything he despised out of his life. A sudden happiness, a feeling of bliss, the joy that came of freedom and a new life – these were the gifts she had left him.
” (Kundera 3.9.18). Franz enjoyed the time they had together, and a part of that will always stay with him, the “broom” is used as a metaphorical being to imply that he is sweeping away all of the burdens in his life.
Now he is overcome with a feeling of bliss due to his new found freedom. In Kundera’s terms, this feeling of being free and untied is classified as lightness.Sabina, on the other hand, has left on her own free will, but the result takes a different tole on her. Kundera talks about how there are the strong and the weak. The weak don’t need a purpose so they live in bliss, whereas the strong are tormented by the “unbearable lightness of being” for they need a purpose in their life, and that is something that is not granted.When Sabina leaves Kundera narrates, “When we want to give expression to a dramatic situation in our lives, we tend to use metaphors of heaviness. We say that something has become a great burden to us.
We either bear the burden or fail and go down with it, we struggle with it, win or lose. And Sabina-what had come over her? Nothing. She had left a man because she felt like leaving him. Had he persecuted her? Had he tried to take revenge on her? No. Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness.
What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being.” (Kundera 3.10.2). Sabina would rather be left with a burden, for at least that gives some purpose to her life.
She is strong, for she can see through the false representation of bliss in life, whereas Franz is weak and overcome by it.Once again the topic of boundaries makes its way into the theme of the novel. Kundera wants for the reader to understand the heaviness that unanswered questions hold, for they could very well be the key to the purpose of life, and why life exists. Kundera states, “Only the most naive of questions are truly serious.
They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.
” (Kundera 4.6.7). In other words, there could be countless of opportunities and places that are different replicas of the world that could all just be off by one simple decision made by one small unimportant person that had set off an entire butterfly effect, or there could only be one life, one chance, and these unanswered questions are what define The Unbearable Lightness of Being.The novel, The Unbearable Lightness of being, by Milan Kundera, The theme of lightness versus weight is a large topic of interest for the novel. Many of the Characters mold around this idea of bliss and/or heaviness in life due to their outlook. Franz is a representation of the “weak” for he finds bliss in the light, whereas, Sebina is a representation of the “strong” for she sees the light at a burden.
The unanswered questions in life are what differentiate the lightness from the heaviness and ultimately create The Unbearable Lightness of Being.Review The novel, The Unbearable Lightness of being, by Milan Kundera, stirs up ideas of the significance certain actions take on your future. The author talks about how you only have one chance at life and that there is no going back, and is able to relate this to a love story. I thought that it was very interesting how everything was twisted together. Personally, I think that this was my favorite book that I have read in this class so far, aside from Of Mice and Men.
I would definitely recommend this book to friends, but I would not recommend this to my family because of the explicit scenes that it held