Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 3, Chapter 3

By Milan Kundera

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Part 3, Chapter 3

  • The first word is "Woman." Sabina didn't choose to be a woman; to her it is just a fact of being female. For Franz, it is a value. Not every woman is a woman. Once he told Sabina, "You are a woman," and this meant nothing to her and everything to him.
  • Franz's wife is named Marie-Claude. Early in their relationship she threatened to kill herself if he ever left her. This fascinated him, though he didn't like her that much.
  • In Franz's mind, the value of woman is based on his mother, who was abandoned by his father. He stays with Marie-Claude because he wants to respect the woman in her.
  • The next entry in the lexicon is "Fidelity and Betrayal."
  • Franz was all about fidelity; he felt it gave meaning to a life. He prides his faithfulness on his mother.
  • Sabina is more taken with the idea of betrayal. Fidelity reminds her of her father, a small-town Puritan who was very strict. She reveled in the idea of finally being able to betray him when she was old enough. When she got older, Communism became another father that she wanted to betray.
  • Later, when she felt guilty for betraying her father, she wanted to betray her own betrayal. And so began a long chain of betrayal after betrayal for Sabina.
  • Next in the lexicon is "Music." For Franz, music is an example of Dionysian beauty. It is intoxicating and it liberates him.
  • Sabina doesn't like the music of her day. She associates it with the loud, obnoxious songs students used to play at her art school. To her modern music was ugly.
  • Franz, who talks for a living (by giving lectures), realizes that words are imprecise, and loves music because it is "the anti-word" (3.3.26).
  • The final entry is "Light and Darkness." Sabina dislikes extremes, including extreme light or dark. To live is to see, and she doesn't want to be blinded.
  • Franz is attracted by darkness and brightness. He always closes his eyes at the moment of penetration during sex, because to him darkness is infinite and boundless. But Sabina finds the fact that he closes his eyes at this moment to be distasteful. She thinks to close your eyes is to negate or refuse what you see.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 3, Chapter 3 Study Group

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