Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 4, Chapter 8

By Milan Kundera

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Part 4, Chapter 8

  • The narrator defines flirtation as leading another to believe that sex is possible while at the same time preventing that possibility from becoming a certainty.
  • When Tereza works behind the bar, the men flirt with her, Yet it doesn't bother her.
  • On the contrary, she wants to expose her body to that "undertow" (4.8.2).
  • Tomas is always trying to convince her that love and sex are two different things.
  • She now wonders what it would be like to have sex with the men who flirt with her at the bar.
  • The narrator clarifies; it's not that she wants to take revenge on Tomas; it's just that she wants to "learn lightness," so as to be less of a burden to Tomas (4.8.4).
  • But flirting doesn't come naturally to Tereza.
  • Instead, she studies it seriously, and in doing so, deprives it of its lightness.
  • She doesn't understand how to suggest sex without promising it, and she ends up giving everyone the impression that she's easy.
  • When men try honestly and are turned down, they think she's a tease.

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