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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Summary

Part 3: Words Misunderstood

Summary Part 3: Words Misunderstood

Music: Franz loves music and finds it intoxicating; he makes no distinction between classical and rock music. He longs for music to obliterate the need to speak and search for precise words, as he has been doing all his life. Sabina hates music she thinks of as mere noise (most music comes under this heading for Sabina); she associates noisy music with loud Communist youth summer camps.

Lightness and darkness: Franz appreciates darkness; he closes his eyes during intercourse, because this makes him feel that he is approaching infinity. To Sabina this makes him seem lifeless, and rather than watch him, she closes her eyes too. As a visual artist, Sabina associates seeing with living. She does not like either complete darkness or blinding light and in general stays away from extremes. Parades: Franz loves parades. In Paris, where he studied, he took part in every possible demonstration, feeling he was part of the Grand March of the European left. Because he spent most of his time inside, studying or lecturing, parades make Franz feel connected to real people and a more real life. Sabina, a supreme individualist forced to take part in Communist parades early on, can think of nothing worse than parades.

The beauty of New York: Franz and Sabina agree that New York's beauty consists of its accidental, unpremeditated oppositions and mistakes. Although he finds New York beautiful, New York makes Franz uneasy and instantly homesick. Sabina likes the accidental quality of New York's beauty; it reminds her of her paintings.

Sabina's country: Franz admires Czechoslovakia and the spirit dissidents show during repression and revolutions. He finds Czechoslovakia deeply romantic and sees its people living the dramatic "real life" he has never experienced. Sabina has no taste for this drama and thinks it ugly and devoid of romance.

Cemetery: To Franz, a cemetery is an "ugly dump of stones and bones." The only Czech places Sabina longs for are the cemeteries, which she thinks of as peaceful, flowering gardens where silence can be found even in wartime.

The old church in Amsterdam: Franz is fascinated by the building because "the Grand March of History had passed through the hall." He sees the emptiness and thinks of the relief it must have been to sweep out all of the collected artifacts. He thinks he may need to simplify his life as the building was simplified. Sabina recalls Communists doing the same thing to Czech churches and thinks that the link is a hatred of beauty. She remembers escaping a work brigade to sit in a village church, and fin ding the church very beautiful compared to the world outside.