Part One: Ludvik
• Without much emotion, Ludvik returns to his hometown, Moravia, after many years.
• Ludvik rents a hotel, but is unsatisfied with it.
• Ludvik meets his friend, Kostka, and asks to borrow his flat. Kostka agrees, and recommends a barber for Ludvik.
• Ludvik goes to the barber to get a shave.
• Ludvik is unsure if the woman who shaves him is a woman he knows, named Lucie.
Part Two: Helena
• Helena is preparing for a trip and decides to go to bed early.
• Helena reflects on her relationship with her husband, Pavel. He believes they married out of discipline to the Party.
• In addition to her strained relationship with Pavel and her daughter, Zdena, Helena is disliked at work.
• Helena is devoutly loyal to the Party.
• Helena and Ludvik meet when she is sent to interview Ludvik for her job. They decide to meet again...
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