The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

In 1980, the Sunday Times reported how Joseph Stalin’s son, Yakov, died during World War II. He had been captured by the Germans and held in a camp with some British officers. Yakov repeatedly left a disgusting mess in the latrine, and when they told him to clean it up, he was terribly offended. He didn’t think that he should have to clean it, and he took his argument all the way to the commander, but when Yakov got there, he wouldn’t talk about “shit.” He was humiliated, and he threw himself onto the electrified fence that lined the perimeter of the camp.
Joseph Stalin led the Soviet Union from the 1920s to the 1950s, and he was revered as almost godlike by the Communist party. As Stalin’s son, Yakov enjoyed the privilege that came along with being the son of a god, but none of this mattered in the prison camp. In this way, Yakov became the exact opposite of what he once was, again suggesting it is impossible to embody only one side of any dichotomy. 
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