Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 1, Chapter 4

By Milan Kundera

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Part 1, Chapter 4

  • Tomas is a doctor.
  • Two days after his standing-at-the-window crisis, Tereza calls his hospital and tells him she is at the train station. He is overjoyed.
  • They make plans to meet the next day.
  • When they meet, Tereza is carrying a copy of Anna Karenina and has left her suitcase at the train station. She says she's come to Prague to find a job.
  • Tomas quickly realizes that Tereza's life is in her suitcase, and that she's there to offer up her life to him. He finds the suitcase to be very heavy.
  • To Tomas's surprise, he takes Tereza home with him. This is against his principles.
  • Since he divorced his wife ten years ago, he's been the ultimate bachelor. He's designed his entire life in such a way that no woman could ever move in with him. And though he has sex with many women, he refuses to sleep next to them afterwards.
  • Yet he and Tereza sleep together side by side, holding hands all night long.
  • Again Tomas thinks of her as a child placed in a basket and sent down the river to him. He feels as though it's his responsibility to take care of her, just as the Pharaoh's daughter took care of Moses.
  • "Tomas did not realize," says the narrator, "that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love" (1.4.12).

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