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 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Until Tereza, Tomas made a concerted effort to remove all love from his life. If he allowed himself to love one woman, than his other mistresses would “assume inferior status and become ripe for insurrection,” which is why he doesn’t want anyone to know that he spends the night with Tereza. Tomas never spends the night with his mistresses, but after waking to Tereza holding his hand, he finds that both he and Tereza enjoy sleeping next to one another. 
Tomas’s desire to sleep next to Tereza again suggests that he is falling in love with her, which again is at odds with his light character. His worry that his mistresses will find out and “assume inferior status” again suggests power imbalances, and it implies that Tomas considers Tereza to have more power than his mistresses, but not more than him. She is, after all, the one who sleeps clutching his hand. Kundera’s use of the phrase “ripe for insurrection” mirrors the mounting political tensions of the Prague Spring.
Themes
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
Whenever Tereza spends the night alone in the small flat Tomas has rented for her, she is unable to sleep. In Tomas’s arms, however, Tereza sleeps like a baby. He whispers in her ear and lulls her to sleep with meaningless words. He has “complete control over her sleep,” and each morning when he wakes, Tereza is holding him tightly. Tomas comes to the conclusion that sleeping next to a woman and having sex with a woman are complete opposites. Love is not the desire for sex, Tomas concludes, but the desire to sleep next to someone.
Tomas’s control over Tereza’s sleep illustrates the power he has over her. Tomas often exerts his power in a sexual way, especially with Sabina, but he has “complete control” over Tereza, so much so that he even commands her sleep. Tereza clings to him, almost desperately, which reflects her strong desire to be loved by him. Kundera later suggests that Tereza could have fallen in love with anyone, not just Tomas—an idea hinted at here by the fact that Tomas lulls her with meaningless words rather than specific, important ones.
Themes
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
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