Archive | 11:07 AM

Read Along 3: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Parts 3 & 4

5 Feb

Read Along 3The second part of the Read-Along is now complete; we’re half-way there. I’m promising a new set-up for Read Along #4 so get ready for it. The anticipation is killing you, isn’t it? I know it is.

Questions from Nicole: The author tells the story of Sabina and Franz. While telling their story, he offers us “a short dictionary of misunderstood words.” He then breaks down these words as a means of how they tell the story. Do you think this lends a new speculative point to the story, where we are now questioning true meanings or is this style choice well used in the middle of the novel?

I don’t find myself questioning the meaning of things, but how I perceive things in my life. For example, Chapter 5 of Part 3 ends with the definition of a cemetery for the two characters. Franz sees them as a blight filled with stones and bones whereas Sabina them as a beautiful celebration of those we have lost. I’m sure there are things in my life that I perceive differently from those around me. For example, I think turtles are really cute and I don’t find many people who share my opinion. Maybe they’d find them majestic, but not cute. I had a friend once who was afraid of yarn because of an experience in his childhood so it reminds him of strangulation. It reminds me of knitting. We all see things differently because of how we’ve experienced them before.

Though abrupt, I like this style change here in the book. Sabina is a very complex character and I this style helps define what’s so different about her. I found myself with viewing things the same way Franz did and it helped me understand how different Sabina is from myself.

Also from Nicole: I gained the conclusion that Tereza was unfaithful. Which brought me full circle to earlier in the novel when Tomas had multiple partners and Tereza found it unsettling that he was able to have so many lovers and remain with her. Comparing the new Tereza to the past Tereza, how similar and different are they? Do you still think Tereza feels the same way as she did in the beginning? What changed and why?


I like how you started this question. Tereza had an affair with the engineer and is unfaithful whereas Tomas has been intimate with many woman yet we can consider him faithful to Tereza. What’s the difference? I would say it’s intent. Tereza seemed out to hurt Tomas whereas his infidelity was never out of anger or meant to hurt Tereza (even though it did). It’s also in how the person perceives his or her own actions. Tomas never considered himself unfaithful through his acts and Tereza does. A bit off topic, but a great point to make.

I don’t think Tereza has changed much now that they’re back in Prague. I think leaving him helped her become stronger, but I think she still holds the same ideals and desires that she did before. She still sees infidelity as wrong even though she has participated in it. She still does not understand Tomas’s need to be with other women. She’s trying to find a lightness of being but finds it unbearable.

And finally, here’s the musing topic Nicole wrote: These two sections look a lot at how symbols and words are viewed differently and construed differently. What are some things that are symbols or misunderstood words in your life? How have these things shaped your life?

It’s hard to think of one single thing that’s defined my life, but this comes up often in my relationship with my husband. He’ll say one thing and I’ll understand it differently than he meant it. If he says, “I’m hungry,” I might understand that as, “Go make dinner,” but he might mean it as, “Are you okay with me having a snack before dinner?” or “I’m going to make food for us.”

If I had to pick one thing, I would say gift giving. I’m not a big gift person. I see gifts as obligations more often than presents. My family has always been this way; we give gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays when it’s expected, but never spontaneously. When I started dating my husband, I realize that this isn’t the norm everywhere. His mother would give me things randomly if they made her think of me. His sister was the same way. I didn’t know how to react. Did I give them something back? Which times did I need to write a thank you note? Did this mean I wasn’t getting anything for my birthday? Why did I get a gift card to Target for Halloween? This wasn’t on my Christmas list; why did you spend money on something you don’t know I’ll like? etc.
It’s taken time, but I’ve gotten used to this now and I don’t see it as a diabolical plot to get me to spend all my disposable income on knickknacks for my brother-in-law. It’s his family’s way of saying, “I’m thinking about you” or sharing in their own good fortune. I’m not claiming that I do it back, but I’m getting there. Maybe someday I could pick something up on a whim, but it will never come naturally.

If you’re interested in joining us in the read-along, it’s never too late! Send me an email and let me know. We’d love to have you.

Until next time, write on.

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