After spending four years in Geneva, Sabina moves to Paris, but she can’t help feeling depressed. Sabina’s depression is not the result of “heaviness” or “burden,” the narrator says, “but of lightness.” Sabina has fallen to victim to “the unbearable lightness of being.” Sabina lives in Paris for nearly three years, and then she receives a letter from Simon, Tomas’s son, which informs her of Tomas and Tereza’s deaths.
Sabina’s depression suggests that lightness is not always positive. Even though she is light and unattached, she is still miserable. Kundera extends this analogy to life and eternal return. Kundera claims human existence is light and doesn’t return, which is precisely the tragedy. One’s life will eventually fall into oblivion and obscurity, which is undeniably heavy despite the lightness of being.
According to Simon’s letter, Tomas and Tereza had lived the last few years in a small town in Czechoslovakia. They were killed when their car went off the road after spending the night at a hotel in the country. Sabina can’t get Tomas and Tereza out of her mind, so she goes to a local cemetery. Sabina has always thought cemeteries peaceful places, and as she walks through the tombstones, she begins to miss Franz, even though he always said cemeteries were just dumps for bones.
Sabina and Franz’s different definitions for “cemetery” again underscore the fluidity of language. Kundera’s novel doesn’t follow a linear, chronological timeline, and he later goes back to Tomas and Tereza’s deaths. Kundera bounces back and forth, often revisiting the same time from different perspectives. This, too, mirrors the theory of eternal return, even though the narrator claims to reject it. Much of the story repeats, in more or less the same way, again and again.