Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 1, Chapter 9

By Milan Kundera

Part 1, Chapter 9

  • In languages that come from Latin (i.e., the romance languages), the narrator begins, the word "compassion" is formed from the prefix meaning "with" and the word "suffering."
  • In other languages, like Czech, the main root means "feeling."
  • According to the romance languages, to love someone out of compassion or pity is a second-rate emotion.
  • But in the second family of languages, this is not the case. To love someone out of compassion is the greatest kind of love, because it signifies "emotional telepathy."
  • Had any other women gone through Tomas's letters, as Tereza did, he would have thrown her out.
  • But Tomas did not throw Tereza out. Instead, he felt the pain of needles under her fingernails that she had felt in her dream.