The Hitchhiking Game

by Milan Kundera

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The Girl

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 253

The "girl," as she is referred to in the story, is on vacation with her boyfriend, whom she has been with for a year. In the beginning of the story, she is shy and embarrassed about her body, and is full of sexual inhibitions. She is extremely jealous of other women, because she knows that the young man has had many casual sexual relationships with women more overtly sexual than herself, and she fears that she will one day lose him to such a woman. When they begin to pretend that she is a hitchhiker he has picked up along the road, she finds herself slipping easily into the role of seductive woman, and, under the cover of this pretend "role," her sexual inhibitions slip away. She finds this experience liberating, as she feels she is finally able to be the type of sexually free woman she envies. She feels she is finally giving the young man what she was afraid only other women could give him: ‘‘lightheartedness, shamelessness, and dissoluteness.’’ When they check in at a hotel and have dinner, she continues in the role, becoming more and more bold. Although she is not aware that he has begun to hate her for this behavior, she perceives, once they are in their hotel room, that he is treating her like a "whore." He becomes completely cold and callous toward her, to the point where she bursts into tears, pleading with him to acknowledge that she is still the same woman he loved.

The Young Man

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 292

As the story opens, the young man is driving with his girlfriend in his sports car, on the first day of their vacation. Although he has had casual sexual relationships with many women, the young man likes the young woman because her thinks of her as "pure" in contrast to all of the other women whom he has encountered. When they begin the "hitchhiking game,'' of pretending she is a hitchhiker he has picked up along the road, he is eager to drop the role playing, and go back to interacting as their usual selves. But the young woman continues to talk and behave in her newfound role as seductress, and so he continues to behave toward her the way he is used to behaving toward all other women except her. When they come to a crossroads, he spontaneously decides to turn in a direction other than that in which they were originally headed. When they check into a hotel and have dinner, his irritation with her newly seductive behavior turns to hatred of her as a person. Nonetheless, he becomes more and more sexually attracted to her in this "role." He begins to treat her more and more crudely, calling her a "whore.'' In their hotel room, he treats her as nothing more than a "whore," speaking to her in a cold, callous way, and forgoing any signs of intimacy, affection or tenderness. He is deaf to her crying and sobbing, and unresponsive to her pleas that he acknowledge her as the woman he had loved, and treat her with his usual warmth. But it is too late once he has perceived her to be a sexual woman, he hates her and dreads the rest of their vacation together.

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