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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary

  • Chapter 5 is a continuation of the Short Dictionary of Misunderstood Words. We start with "Parades."
  • Sabina's father used to force her to march in Communist parades. She hated them.
  • Franz lives a stifled, professional life. For him, parades represent freedom. He loves them. He considers his own book-ish life to be unreal, not realizing that the parades and demonstrations he loves are only carnivals and theatre.
  • When the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia, her friends were amazed that Sabina didn't want to fight against the invading forces. Sabina couldn't explain that the same force lies behind both communism and fascism, a "pervasive evil" the image of which is people marching in a parade with their fists raised.
  • We then have "The Beauty of New York"
  • Sabina and Franz have been to New York together. Sabina likes the incongruities of different things in the city, as they remind her of her paintings.
  • Franz thinks the beauty of New York is unintentional and fortuitous, whereas European cities have such a premeditated feel to them.
  • Sabina understands this idea of "beauty by mistake." Her first "mature" painting came about because she accidentally dripped red paint across the canvas.
  • Do they at last agree on something then?
  • No. Sabina is attracted by New York's accidental beauty; Franz is frightened by it and longs for home.
  • The next entry in the lexicon is "Sabina's Country"
  • Franz admires Sabina's country. (Remember that he feels as though parades and political activism are a real alternative to his fake and bookish life.)
  • Sabina disagrees; protest and political drama don't mean anything, she says. It is Franz's life of peace and quiet that is admirable.
  • But Franz thinks that, in academia, "culture is perishing in overproduction" of theses and research. He has a weakness for revolution, because it represents to him a life of daring and courage. Much of his attraction to Sabina has to do with her association with this kind of life.
  • The last entry in this chapter is "Cemetery"
  • The only thing Sabina likes in her own country are the cemeteries, which are like gardens. She likes that they are always peaceful even in times of turmoil.
  • Franz thinks cemeteries are ugly dumps of stones and bones.

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