The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 1, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beethoven, the narrator says, considered weight positive, unlike Parmenides. The “weighty resolution” of Beethoven’s quartet describes Fate, and it implies that only that which is heavy has any real value. Tomas crosses the border into Czechoslovakia and is met with Russian tanks. “Es muss sein!” he says to himself again. Tomas knows that staying in Zurich without Tereza would have been unbearable, but he wonders how long this feeling would have lasted. A week? A month? His entire life? He doesn’t know, and since his life occurs only once, the narrator says, Tomas has no way of knowing.
This passage again directly refutes the theory of eternal return. Tomas doesn’t know what to do, or if Tereza is chance or Fate, because he is experiencing his feelings for the first time. The sight of the Russian tanks suddenly puts Tomas’s decision into perspective. With his move back to Prague, the presence of the Russian tanks and the power of the Soviet Union become his fate, and he cannot escape it.
Themes
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon