The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Milan Kundera

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Unbearable Lightness of Being can help.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 6, Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

All people need someone to look at them, the narrator claims, and everyone fits into one of four categories. The first group of people, like the American actress and the German pop star, require infinite eyes looking at them. The second group—to which Franz’s wife, Marie-Claude, and his daughter, Marie-Anne, belong—need to be looked at by many familiar eyes, like at parties and dinners. The third group, such as Tereza and Tomas, need the constant gaze of one specific person. The fourth group, where Franz fits, require imaginary eyes. These people are the dreamers, the narrator says. Tomas’s son, Simon, belongs in the fourth group as well, and he is only interested in being seen by Tomas. 
Simon needs to know that Tomas is looking at him, which is why he sends him letters with no return address (as described in the next chapter). Simon doesn’t really care if Tomas writes him back; he just wants Tomas to have access to his life. After Tomas’s death, Simon begins sending letters to Sabina, as he believes that having his father’s mistress look at him is the next best thing to having his father look at him. Simon and Franz are dreamers because no one is actually looking at them (Sabina, for instance, ignores both of them) but they disregard this, which again points to kitsch. 
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon