The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 5, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tomas is the best surgeon at the hospital, and there is talk that he will one day be chief. Soon, rumor of the retraction hits, and it seems that everyone knows about it. Everybody just assumes that Tomas will comply, and this bothers him. He has never done a thing to suggest he isn’t an honest man, yet they all assume he will lie and write the retraction. They all seem to be smiling at him, and Tomas can’t stand it. He goes to see the chief surgeon and says he won’t write the retraction but hopes he can stay on at the hospital. He is dismissed immediately.
The fact that Tomas is the best surgeon at the hospital and has been slated for chief implies that no one is safe from the Communist regime. The regime doesn’t give Tomas a pass just because he is valuable; they expect him to comply just like everyone else. It is ironic that Tomas is so worried about his integrity considering his repeated infidelities, but nonetheless, this sense of personal integrity seems to fuel his decision not to write the retraction more than his moral objection to communism does. 
Themes
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon