Growing up in Czechoslovakia, Sabina was forced to participate annually in the May Day parade. Now, she hates all parades. Franz, on the other hand, studied in Paris and took part in every demonstration he could. Watching parades fill the Paris streets with protesting people, Franz imagined all of Europe a “Grand March.” He thought of the people marching “from revolution to revolution, from struggle to struggle, ever onward.”
Franz holds a romanticized ideal of Communist countries with their struggles and revolutions, but Sabina obviously doesn’t feel this way. To Sabina, there is nothing romantic about forced patriotism and allegiance to a political regime that seeks to oppress her. Franz’s fascination with the “Grand March” reflects this romanticism, and leads to his demise near the end of the book, as he is killed attending the failed Grand March into Cambodia.