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 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tomas takes a job at a country clinic, but he isn’t allowed to operate anymore and serves only as a general practitioner. One day, a dignitary comes to the clinic and asks Tomas to go for a drink. It is a shame, the dignitary says, that such a talented doctor is handing out aspirin. The dignitary is kind and polite, and Tomas has to remind himself that nothing he says is truthful or genuine.
Tomas’s job at the clinic is a massive step down from where he was as a surgeon, and the regime is trying to use this against him to get him to conform, which is another display of their power over Tomas. They control everything, and the dignitary’s visit is a reminder of this.
Themes
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
The dignitary asks Tomas if he really believes that Communists should put out their eyes, and Tomas tells him that that idea is ridiculous. If the dignitary had read what was actually written, Tomas says, he wouldn’t think that. He tells the dignitary that the article was cut and altered. He asks Tomas who he met at the paper, but Tomas lies and says he doesn’t remember his name. He asks Tomas what the man looked like, and even though he was short with brown hair, Tomas says he was tall with black hair. The dignitary nods. He knows just the editor Tomas is talking about. “You have been manipulated, Doctor,” the dignitary says. He stands to leave and tells Tomas he will be in touch. 
Of course, it is the dignitary and the Communist regime who are manipulating Tomas, and everyone else for that matter. Tomas’s lie about the editor is intended to protect him, but what he doesn’t realize is that his description actually matches another editor. In trying to save one man from the regime, he inadvertently implicates another. It is clear that the regime is closely watching the editor, which is further evidence of the persecution of the Czech intelligentsia by the regime. 
Themes
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon