Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 6, Chapter 2

By Milan Kundera

Part 6, Chapter 2

  • The story goes that Stalin's father killed Yakov's mother, which meant Yakov was both Stalin's son and his cast-off. He understood how easy it was to go "from one pole of human existence to the other" (6.2.2).
  • When these poles come so close to each other, says the narrator, it makes man dizzy and want to fall. It makes him experience vertigo.
  • If man can be simultaneously close to two such different poles, he argues, "then human existence loses its dimensions and becomes unbearably light" (6.2.6).
  • Yakov's death may have been over a dirty latrine, but this doesn't mean that it was senseless.
  • On the other hand, the Germans who died trying to expand their country's territory – that was idiotic. "Among the general idiocy of the war," argues the narrator, "the death of Stalin's son stands out as the sole metaphysical death" (6.2.7).