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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

  • Because Tereza's mother blamed Tereza for the way her life turned out, she insisted on keeping Tereza trapped with her in a world of immodesty, "a vast concentration camp of bodies," as punishment.
  • This is why Tereza looks in the mirror as she does; she longs to be "a body unlike other bodies," to find within her body her "sad, timid, self-effacing soul" (2.8.2).
  • Consider the day that she met Tomas. She was working as a waitress, her body was tired, and her soul lay somewhere in the pit of her stomach.
  • And then she saw Tomas. He seemed special to her because he had an open book on the table.
  • Books are special to Tereza; in her eyes, they are "emblematic of a secret brotherhood" (2.8.4). When she was a child, they were a way of escaping from the world of her mother. Reading them made her different from others.
  • The narrator notes that the books indeed made Tereza different, but they also made her old-fashioned.
  • Anyway, when Tomas appeared to Tereza, her soul rose from the pit of her stomach to show itself to him.

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