The Hitchhiking Game

by Milan Kundera

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How does Milan Kundera treat the themes of fiction and reality in his story "The Hitchhiking Game"?

In “The Hitchhiking Game,” Kundera treats the themes of fiction and reality as entities capable of bringing about whole new perspectives on life. While the young woman in the story discovers confidence in the world of fiction, her fiction destroys her boyfriend’s view of her in reality.

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In “The Hitchhiking Game,” fiction in the form of a roleplaying game intended to add an element of fun to a couple’s roadtrip turns into a distortion of reality in which the male protagonist winds up losing all respect for his younger girlfriend, who he had previously perceived to be far more innocent than his previous partners.

At the beginning, the twenty-two year old is incredibly shy and embarrassed about everything, to the point that she is uncomfortable telling her boyfriend she needs to use the restroom on their roadtrip. Afterward, when she gets back into the car, both realize that the scenario is similar to a driver picking up a hitchhiker, and just for fun, they start to roleplay the scenario.

Fiction and reality start to become blurred when the girl realizes how much she is enjoying the pretense. In adopting this persona, she manages to leave all her neuroses behind, making her feel more confident, sexier, and more like the woman she imagines her older, sophisticated boyfriend would want. For him, on the other hand, this new fiction robs him of the illusion that his girlfriend possesses innocence and purity that the myriad other women that he has been with lacked.

In a nutshell, therefore, the themes of fiction and reality are treated as powerful agents of change. For the young woman, it is by abandoning reality that her viewpoint is changed. For the man, it is the fiction that creates a disturbing new reality.

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