Tag Archives: Read Along #3

Read Along 3: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Parts 5 – 7

17 Feb

Read Along 3
With the snow that’s pounded us here in Detroit, Nicole and I have had a lot more time inside to read than we normally do. So instead of stretching this Read Along into four parts, we’ve combined the last two and finished the book! Yep, it’s over. That was a short Read-Along. It only means we’re closer to Read Along #4! Be ready.

Questions from Nicole: In part 5, we learn about Tomas’s article that he wrote comparing Oedipus to the Czech Communists. How can we compare Tomas’s personal actions to the Oedipus story?  His love affairs continued to happen well after he knew Tereza wanted monogamy and in turn hurt her, do you think this was an act that he could claim he didn’t know he was doing?

I don’t think so. Tomas is very aware of what he’s doing and that it’s wrong. I can compare Tereza to Oedipus more readily. She knew when she started dating Tomas that he was unfaithful and tried to change him. When that didn’t work, she tried being unfaithful herself. Because of Tomas’s actions, she didn’t realize that it would be wrong to be unfaithful to him but when she did, she repented and punished herself. This reminded me more of Oedipus’s self-inflicted pain than any part of Tomas’s story.

Also from Nicole: Part 6 brings a lot of deaths. Tereza, Tomas and Franz all die. Pulling in the title of the book, how do you think the unbearable lightness of their being was justified (or not) justified in their deaths. Sabina is left alone and now lives in California, and we learn that she plans her own death – how is her unbearable lightness justified now that she is dead inside but still mortal?

I think this is answered for Tereza and Tomas in part 7 and I’ll answer it later, but here I’ll discuss Franz. I think he was finally able to achieve a lightness of being but lost it in his final moments. After Sabina left him, he found happiness and was honest with his wife. His young mistress and him were good together and I liked them as a couple. But in his final moments, all he could think of was Sabina. It bothered me a lot that after finding lightness and not worrying about his wife, he ruined what he had with the student by bringing Sabina back.

I don’t agree that Sabina is dead inside. I think she is afraid of a lot of things and commitment is chief of those. The last time we see her, she’s made a commitment to a couple that she knows will not last long. I think she’s only able to achieve lightness by not committing but at the same time, it hurts her to be constantly leaving. I think her lightness comes at a terrible price.

Also from Nicole: When Karenin gets sick and needs to be put to sleep, Tereza accounts her relationship with man vs dog. This section was interesting to me, as an animal lover. Comparing the loyalties and companionship of animal to man has some great contrasts. How can we compare the lightness of being to animals and man? Some people argue that animals have no conscious state, meaning they don’t know any better than to be loyal to their owners. What ideas/thoughts do you have with this last theory?

I believe that animals have feelings and mental capacities and I think many animals demonstrate loyalty. Dogs are a great example, like Karenin. My turtle is conscience enough to know my husband feeds her most of the time and will look to him for food. Karenin liked the love and attention Tereza gave him and that made him happy. I’m not sure if a dog has the mental capacity to understand the lightness of being. I’m trying to think what a dog could do to achieve that state. Maybe he is always there. There is not much that weighs heavy on a dog’s conscious or that he can dream of to make him happier. I can imagine a dining room table that would make me very happy even though I’ve never seen one that looks like the one in my head. I don’t think Karenin could imagine a toy that he’s never seen before that could make him happy. What he has makes him happy so he is content and has achieved the lightness.

And finally, here’s the musing topic I wrote, which is where I’ll return to the second question: We’ve taken a novel to explain what the Unbearable Lightness of Being is. Now that we know, it’s time to pass judgement. Is it good to feel the lightness? Or is it too unbearable to seek?

I think Tomas and Tereza’s journeys tell us this. Tomas felt the lightness of being for so long and he thought it made him happy. As he grew older, he felt it weighing him down and saw that it affected his relationship with Tereza so that it was never what he wanted it to be. In the end, he was able to forgo his womanizing ways and thought he wasn’t light, he was happy. Tereza was weighed down by Tomas and could never achieve the lightness until they went to the country. Then she realized how she was weighing Tomas down and felt heavy for that. There’s no perfect lightness or perfect heaviness but there’s somewhere in the middle where we are the most happy.

And now it’s over! That was a quick read but I’m really glad I read it. My friend who recommended this goes on my mental ‘trusted recommendations’ list.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along 3: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Parts 1 & 2

22 Jan

Read Along 3With only two of us participating through this first part, Nicole and I have decided to go at a slightly accelerated pace; whatever pace we read the book. I have an idea for how I want to change my Read-Along series in the future so stay tuned for some developments there. But for now, let’s dive in to the first section!

Questions from Nicole: We notice that Tereza’s mother is very open with her sexuality and her “nakedness” when Tereza is a child. Her mother walks around naked and even when Tereza is inclined to protect her mother and her dignity she is laughed at. Now as an adult, Tereza recalls when her mother would say that the female body is replicated and identical to other women’s bodies. How do they view relationships and love differently? Are they similar or vastly different? How do you suppose that Tereza overcomes her need to protect her dignity? Tomas seems to see no difference in the fact that he adores no woman more or less based on their bodies – but uses sex as his way of showing he adores them. Does this make things more difficult for a true love to blossom between Tereza and Tomas?

Tereza’s mother sees herself as no different from any other woman. I think this idea stems from her relationship with her husband; she’s his wife but there are many lovers. Her body is no different to him as the other women he is intimate with. She’s one of many and has (sadly) accepted this. Tereza refuses to accept she’s a clone of the other women Tomas loves. She fervently wants to believe that there’s something special about her that makes her better than all the others. I think Tereza believes that her modesty is something that sets her apart. She believes that if a man loves her, he’ll spend time getting to know her before he sees her nakedness and will love her despite it. Tomas shares the same mentality about woman’s bodies as Tereza’s mother which makes it hard for Tereza to see herself as special to him. He separates love and sex in his mind but to Tereza they are the same. I see this as the main problem in their relationship.

Also from Nicole: I found the theory/idea of chance happenings to be very interesting. The “chance happenings” seem to be more of a reflection on their actions leading them up to a certain point. This seems to be a very romantic approach to the storyline and a very modern idea/theory. How do you feel about the approach of the story being written as a theory? Is it realistic or a struggle for you to accept this story line as real or do you feel of it as more of a fictitious piece (regardless that this story is considered a fiction novel)? In other words, the majority of this story is based on theory and chance-happening for it to work, does this make it seem more real or less real?

I think all of life is a series of chance happenings. My parents happened to buy a house that’s down the street from the church where I went one day where my husband happened to be because his family happened to move to Michigan because his dad happened to have gotten a job in the area. As it happens both needed someone to hang out with the summer after Freshman year and choose each other. There are so many points along the way where something could have been different or never have happened at all, but the fact is that it all went the way it did and it’s the only way I got to where I am. The fact that Tereza thinks about this is a little different from my experiences with other novels, but it doesn’t detract from the plot for me. The chance happenings are believable and I don’t think the author is taking liberties to force the plot in any way.

And finally, here’s the musing topic that I choose for this week: Tereza seems to have accepted Tomas even though she knows he is flawed. She wants to be his wife but knows he will be unfaithful. What are some things in your life that you’ve accepted even though they are flawed?

There are a lot of easy answers to this one. My second-hand furniture, my family, etc. But I think the one thing I find hardest to accept the flaws in is myself. I have very high standards for myself and it’s hard for me to accept when I don’t hit those standards. I’ll have people say to me that I’m involved in too much but when I find myself with free time, I start thinking of other things I could be doing to fill it. When I find something new (my latest has been grad school), I give myself a goal (4.0 GPA) and push myself to achieve it. I’ll stress and worry about it and if I fall short, it’s hard for me to get over it. Like Tereza, I have to realize that there’s a lot good with myself and even though there are flaws (like a 3.8 in one class) the overall picture is pretty great.

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.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!