Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 4, Chapter 21

By Milan Kundera

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Part 4, Chapter 21

  • Tereza puts the crow in a bed of old rags on the bathroom floor. She sees in it a reflection of her own fate, and knows that she has no one except Tomas.
  • The narrator asks what Tereza learned from her escapade with the engineer. Did she learn that casual sex is light and weightless?
  • Nope. She can't get her mind off the scene when she came out of the bathroom and wanted the man to call to her soul.
  • She wonders what would have happened if Tomas and one of his mistresses had been in the same situation. Tomas would have said a single word, and the woman would have been his for the taking.
  • Tereza knows how it works, "the moment love is born: the woman cannot resist the voice calling forth her terrified soul; the man cannot resist the woman whose soul thus responds to his voice" (4.21.6).
  • She knows that Tomas is defenseless against the lure of love.
  • Tereza has no weapons but her own fidelity, which is the cornerstone of their relationship.
  • She finally leaves the crow for a moment to get a bite to eat.
  • When she returns, the crow is dead.

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