The Unbearable Lightness of Being
How we cite our quotes:
Let me return to this dream. Its horror did not begin with Tomas's first pistol shot; it was horrifying from the outset. Marching naked in formation with a group of naked women was for Tereza the quintessential image of horror. When she lived at home, her mother forbade her to lock the bathroom door. What she meant by her injunction was: Your body is just like all other bodies; you have no right to shame; you have no reason to hide something that exists in millions of identical copies. In her mother's world all bodies were the same and marched behind one another in formation. (2.15.2)
We can understand why Tomas's infidelities hurt Tereza so much; he makes her just one of any number of women. We can also understand why Tomas is the one holding the gun in this dream. He is the one who forces Tereza to see herself as a naked woman among dozens of others.
Because he was the one who sent Tereza to join them. That was what the dream was meant to tell Tomas, what Tereza was unable to tell him herself. She had come to him to escape her mother's world, a world where all bodies were equal. She had come to him to make her body unique, irreplaceable. But he, too, had drawn an equal sign between her and the rest of them: he kissed them all alike, stroked them alike, made no, absolutely no distinction between Tereza's body and the other bodies. He had sent her back into the world she tried to escape, sent her to march naked with the other naked women. (2.16.7)
But remember that Tomas firmly places Tereza in a different realm than the women he has sex with. She is the only one he loves, and she is the only one he actually sleeps besides. He does make her special, but Tereza does not recognize this.
She yearned for the two of them to merge into a hermaphrodite. Then the other women's bodies would be their playthings. (2.19.4)
By repeating Sabina's letter aloud to Tomas in bed, Tereza tries to put herself with Tomas in a position of power. By fantasizing about her and Tomas as a hermaphrodite, she establishes herself as distinct from the other women (who are now mere "playthings").