From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
The story goes that Stalin's father killed Yakov's mother, which meant Yakov was both Stalin's son and his cast-off. He understood how easy it was to go "from one pole of human existence to the other" (6.2.2).
When these poles come so close to each other, says the narrator, it makes man dizzy and want to fall. It makes him experience vertigo.
If man can be simultaneously close to two such different poles, he argues, "then human existence loses its dimensions and becomes unbearably light" (6.2.6).
Yakov's death may have been over a dirty latrine, but this doesn't mean that it was senseless.
On the other hand, the Germans who died trying to expand their country's territory – that was idiotic. "Among the general idiocy of the war," argues the narrator, "the death of Stalin's son stands out as the sole metaphysical death" (6.2.7).