Tereza, the narrator says, illustrates “the irreconcilable duality of body and soul.” The body is a “cage,” the narrator contends, and inside is the soul—the thing that feels, listens, looks, and fears. Since humankind has learned about the human body and its various physiological systems, the soul is often understood in scientific terms as the gray matter of the brain. However, little is really known about the duality of body and soul. For Tereza, standing at Tomas’s door with a rumbling stomach, the “unity of body and soul” exposed by science was gone completely.
Philosophical thought has long divided the body and the soul into two separate and distinct entities. Medicine understands the soul as the mind, or the brain, but Kundera implies it is something else entirely. Standing at Tomas’s door, Tereza has no power to silence her stomach—that is, she has no power over her body. Here, Tereza’s body is completely separate from her soul, but Kundera later implies that the body and soul are not as separate as their perceived duality implies.