Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 5, Chapter 20

By Milan Kundera

Part 5, Chapter 20

  • Later that day, Tomas is washing a display window when a man approaches. It's the hospital colleague named S., – the one who smiled at Tomas because he himself had been pressured politically but did not fold.
  • Tomas gets a sense of self-satisfaction, because now S. knows that Tomas did not sign the retraction.
  • The conversation is stilted; both men are uncomfortable. They speak only briefly before S. leaves.
  • In general, Tomas's role as a window washer has become more normal.
  • His old patients no longer send for him by name and give him champagne while he's supposed to be working
  • "The situation of the déclassé intellectual was no longer exceptional; it had turned into something permanent and unpleasant to confront" (5.20.16).