The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 6, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Franz arrives in Bangkok, Thailand, to several upset Frenchmen. The Grand March had been their idea, but the Americans have completely taken over. The main meeting is being held in English, but when the Frenchmen ask why (in French, of course), no one understands them and they have to ask in English. An interpreter is found, and the meeting takes twice as long because every word is said in both languages. At the meeting’s close, one of the Americans raises his fist into the air, because he knows that Europeans are fond of such a gesture during times of protest. 
This meeting again underscores the arbitrary nature of language, especially since most of the people don’t understand what is being said by the French interpreter. The French interpreter is there only to appease the Frenchmen, who, ironically, understand English as well. The raising of the American’s fist expresses this arbitrariness too (and it is also kitschy), as he doesn’t know exactly what the gesture means; he simply knows it is something Europeans do under similar circumstances. 
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