The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Part 7, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tereza and Tomas sell nearly everything they own in Prague and move to the country. The country is their escape, and no one cares about politics there. Tereza is happy in the country, but she and Tomas had to “break” with their former friends and lifestyle to make the move possible. Small villages under communism do not have churches or bars, and the nearest theater is miles away.
Again, the narrative skips backward, describing what the reader already knows is the final phase of Tereza and Tomas’s lives. Tomas and Tereza’s break from their former friends and life is much like one of Sabina’s betrayals. They are “breaking ranks,” so to speak, and going into the unknown. Religion is often suppressed in Communist states as another way to control the masses, just like the suppression of alcohol and free speech.  
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
No one owns any land in the Communist countryside, and they all labor for the collective farm. There are shared supplies and livestock, yet despite this, there is some still some autonomy. No one actually wants to live there, and country people are mostly left alone. Tereza and Tomas went to the country voluntarily, and they had no problem finding a small cottage and work at the collective farm. They become good friends with the collective farm chairman, Tomas’s former patient, and his pig, Mefisto. 
The farmers who labor on the collective farms represent the very bottom of the social hierarchy, so the regime cares little about them, as long as they continue to labor and keep the farms going. This neglect is exactly what Tereza and Tomas are after, as they want to get as far away from the regime as possible.
Themes
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
Tereza finds work tending to the collective farm heifers, and Karenin goes to work with her each day. Soon after moving there, Tereza notices that Karenin is limping, and after taking him to the vet in a neighboring village, the learns that Karenin has cancer. Tomas assists the vet in removing the tumor from Karenin’s leg, and Karenin goes home to recover.
Karenin, as the reader is about to learn, doesn’t recover, and he soon dies. Despite the fact that Karenin has lived a cyclical existence as a dog, his life eventually comes to an end as well, which again reflects Kundera’s argument of the nonexistence of eternal return.
Themes
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon