The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 6, Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Franz is not dedicated to kitsch—in fact, he doesn’t even vote—but he is drawn to the idea of the Grand March. One day, Franz receives a call from a friend in Paris asking him to join a Grand March of intellectuals into Cambodia, another country suffering under Communism. The country has been struck by widespread famine and is occupied by Vietnam, another extension of Russia. Doctors have been denied entrance into the country to help the dying people, and the purpose of the Grand March is to force the government to allow doctors to enter the country.
Franz doesn’t protest because he feels passionately about one cause or another; rather, he protests because he feels passionately about the idea of protesting injustices, like communism and oppression. This is similar to Franz’s obsession with Sabina—he doesn’t actually love Sabina. Instead, he loves the idea of Sabina as a Czechoslovakian who has struggled and escaped oppression. Similarly, Franz doesn’t really care about Cambodia; it is simply another chance to protest Communism.  
Themes
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
Not wanting to leave his young girlfriend, Franz initially declines the offer to join the Grand March, but then he thinks about Sabina. Franz decides that Sabina would want him to go, so he calls his friend back and accepts the invitation. Days later, he leaves from Paris aboard an airplane with 50 other intellectuals—a sampling of writers, professors, and actors—and 400 reporters and photographers.
This is further proof of the misunderstandings between Franz and Sabina. Sabina hates the idea of the Grand March (it is, after all, kitschy), and she definitely wouldn’t want anyone to go, but Franz goes all the way to Cambodia because he thinks she would want him to. The ratio of protestors to reporters also illustrates the kitsch of the Grand March, as there are more people to watch than to participate. If the march were really about the Cambodians, they would all participate. 
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon