The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

Milan Kundera

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Unbearable Lightness of Being can help.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 5, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Days later, word of the petition hits the papers. The petition was all over, but not a word of it was cited, and all the signatories have been publicly defamed. Tomas isn’t surprised, but he still wonders if he did the right thing in refusing to sign. Surely, it is right to speak up for others. He wonders why the paper is giving the petition so much attention. Of course, the papers are all state-operated, but they could have just as easily not mentioned the petition, and very few people would have ever known about it. There is no way for Tomas to know if he made the right decision. “Human life occurs only once,” the narrator says.  
This moment again points to eternal return, and Kundera implies that if Tomas’s life did repeat, he would know from experience that the regime put word of the petition in the paper in order to intimidate and control the people. In Tomas’s case, it has worked. Tomas didn’t speak up for others in part because he was afraid of being further smeared by the regime. By intimidating people like Tomas, the regime stays in power and the people stay oppressed. 
Themes
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon