The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 4, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

The tall stranger’s flat is a simple one-room efficiency with a curtain dividing it. He has little furniture, but hundreds of books line the walls. Tereza feels instantly comfortable. This many books have to be a good sign. She reaches up and grabs a copy of Sophocles’s Oedipus. Tomas gave her a copy once and couldn’t stop talking about it. Then he wrote an article about it for the paper, and it ruined their lives. Seeing the book is like a message from Tomas meant to tell her that he’s the reason she’s there in the first place.
The simplicity of the tall stranger’s flat suggests that the whole situation could be staged to incriminate Tereza, and Tereza later thinks this because Oedipus is so strategically placed. Tomas’s article about Oedipus is the reason why he was dismissed from his job, and it is implied that Tereza suffered because of it, too. Still, Tereza thinks that books are symbolic of a “secret brotherhood” of knowledge and enlightenment, which is why she is instantly comfortable when she sees the stranger’s books.
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