Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 1, Chapter 16

By Milan Kundera

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Part 1, Chapter 16

  • Unlike Parmenides, Beethoven thought that weight was something positive. Necessity, weight, and value were all bound together for him. If something has no weight, it is not important or valuable. A hero, in Beethoven's mind, was a man who bore his fate the way Atlas bore the weight of the world on his shoulders.
  • When Tomas crosses the Czech borders he has to wait for a stream of Russian tanks to go by before he can pass.
  • He wonders for how long he will be tortured by his compassion for Tereza. He can't even decide whether or not to follow his compassion, since he has only one life to live and cannot test different hypotheses.
  • When he gets to their old place, he no longer feels the urge to fall into Tereza's arms. Instead, "he fancie[s] himself standing opposite her in the midst of a snowy plain, the two of them shivering from the cold" (1.16.10).

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