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 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tomas is again sitting at his desk with a letter, but this letter is from his son, Simon. Simon has sent many letters over the years, but he gives no return address, and until now, Tomas has never told Tereza about them. Tomas tells her about the letters and adds that Simon’s mother was a staunch Communist, but Simon broke from the regime when he left the house. Now, Simon finds strength in God and religion, which he considers the only “voluntary association” in Czechoslovakia.
The regime has absolutely nothing to do with religion since Czechoslovakia practices state atheism, in which the state neither believes nor explicitly disbelieves in god or religion. Religion is generally suppressed in Communist countries and by embracing religion, Simon rejects both the regime and his mother.
Themes
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
Tereza convinces Tomas to invite Simon to visit. They can tell by the postmark which collective farm he lives on, so they send a letter to the farm’s chairman. When Simon arrives to visit, Tereza can’t believe how much he looks like Tomas. Standing with his son, Tomas looks old to Tereza, and she is suddenly struck by how unfair she has been. If her love for Tomas had been true, she would have stayed with him in Zurich instead of running back to Prague. She told herself that she was doing Tomas a favor by leaving him, but really she was just testing his love for her.
Simon and Tomas’s similarities, like those between Tereza and her mother, are another form of eternal return. Tomas, in a way, lives again through his son. This passage marks the moment when Tereza finally realizes that she now holds all the power over Tomas. Returning to Prague was a test of Tomas’s love, because Tereza knew that if he truly loved her, he would follow her to Prague.
Themes
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
Later, Tereza takes a bath and thinks about how “aggressive” her weakness was, and how it  “transformed [Tomas] into the rabbit in her arms." She is just stepping out of the tub when Tomas runs in, yelling for something strong to drink. One of the farmers has dislocated his shoulder, and since no one knew what to do, they immediately went to Tomas. The collective farm chairman helps the man into the house, and Tomas quickly sets his shoulder. The men look at Tereza in her pretty dress and decide to go dancing.
Tereza’s weakness was “aggressive,” which suggests that she is actually strong. By being both things at once, Tereza obliterates these two polar opposites and they become meaningless. However, since Kundera also implies that one person will always have power over the other, Tomas loses his power and becomes dependent on Tereza, even though he still appears to be strong.
Themes
Lightness, Weight, and Dichotomies  Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
They drive to a nearby town, where the hotel has a bar and dancefloor, and they rent two rooms for the night. They drink, and Tereza dances with the collective farm chairman and then Tomas. As they dance, Tereza apologizes for making him return to Prague. She says it’s all her fault that he is no longer a surgeon and instead has to be a simple farmhand. He assures her he is happy, and adds that without his job he is completely free. She looks at Tomas and thinks about the rabbit. She wonders what it means to turn into a rabbit, and she decides that it means losing strength—no one is stronger than the other.
Tereza says that she is no stronger than Tomas, but this isn’t exactly true. He is metaphorically a rabbit in her hands, which implies he is completely at her mercy. Notably, Tomas dances with Tereza here, which he won’t do earlier in the novel, and there are no feelings of jealousy when she dances with the chairman. This implies that Tomas is secure in his love for Tereza, as she finally is in his as well.
Themes
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
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After drinking and dancing, Tereza and Tomas go upstairs to their room. They feel both happiness and sadness. Sadness because they are “at the last station,” and happiness because they are still together. Tomas opens the door to the room and flips on the light. A lamp on a table next to the bed illuminates the small room, and a single butterfly circles the lightbulb.
Tomas and Tereza are “at the last station” because they are going to die the very next day, as the reader knows from previous sections of the book. Kundera’s use of the word “station” again recalls the novel Anna Karenina, whose title character dies at the end of the book at a train station. The room resembles Tereza’s childhood bedroom, which again represents repetition and a form of eternal return. Even though they will both die the next day, the butterfly connotes hope and optimism. Tereza and Tomas are in love, and they are as happy as they can possibly be, and this implies that their lives are not meaningless despite the “unbearable lightness of being.” 
Themes
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon
Lightness, Weight, and Dichotomies  Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon