A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ove and the cat meet each other at 5:55am and immediately dislike each other. Just as he's done every morning for the last 40 years, Ove had woken up ten minutes earlier and brewed a proper cup of coffee to drink with his wife. While the coffee brews, Ove goes outside to inspect the street. He thinks that only "self-employed people and other disreputable sorts" live on the street now. Ove comes upon the cat sitting on a footpath and yells at it to scram before continuing his inspection.
The fact that Ove has been following this routine for the last 40 years makes it clear that he needs this routine. His reaction to the cat then suggests that his routine is easy to upset with even the smallest thing. His thought about self-employed people suggests that the demographics on the street have changed a lot in the last 40 years. Note that it’s suggested that Ove’s wife is present with him and having coffee as well, though it’s later revealed that this isn’t the case.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Ove inspects the sign saying that cars aren't allowed in the residential area by kicking it. He checks his neighbors' garages to see if they've been robbed, checks the garage that houses his Saab, and then checks license plates in the guest parking area to see if anyone has overstayed the 24-hour parking limit. Nobody has overstayed today, but Ove regularly tracks down cars' owners and yells at them when they do, as a matter of principle. Ove then inspects the trash room to make sure the neighbors are sorting their garbage and recycling appropriately. Ove doesn't care about sorting garbage, but feels he must uphold the rules once they're in place.
Ove doesn't seem to care what the rules are, but primarily that people follow them. This suggests that Ove thrives on having control of everything around him, as evidenced too by his routine of inspecting the neighborhood every morning. It's unclear what purpose Ove's "principles" serve at this point other than providing him with a sense of control over his life and his environment.
Themes
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
The narrator notes that when Ove was the chairman of the Residents' Association, he tried unsuccessfully to get cameras installed in the trash room. Two years later, when Ove was no longer the chairman and the question of cameras came up again, Ove voted against cameras because he doesn't trust the internet, and the proposed cameras uploaded footage to the internet directly.
Ove once had power to create and enforce rules as the chairman of the Residents' Association, which seems a fitting role from what we know of his character so far. Here, we learn that Ove distrusts modernity and change, as represented by the cameras that utilize the internet.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Ove inspects the bike shed and puts an improperly parked bicycle into the shed. Then he walks back to his own house and leans down to check if his paving stones smell like urine (they do). He goes inside, drinks his coffee, and cancels his telephone service and newspaper subscription. He does small tasks around the house until 4pm.
Ove's neighbors don't seem to share his love of rules if they're parking bikes improperly and allowing their dogs to urinate on Ove's walkway. This begins to develop the idea that Ove is separate from his neighborhood and not a part of the greater community.
Themes
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
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The narrator says that life wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Ove stands in his living room and watches his neighbor, Anders, jog outside. Anders drives an Audi and bought his house with a loan, and Ove thinks that Anders is probably a self-employed idiot because of this. Ove thinks that nobody wants to work anymore and remembers yesterday, when his boss asked him to retire. They'd said that Ove could take it easy, but Ove disagrees with their assessment.
Again, Ove very much looks down on how people live today versus how he lived his life years ago and still lives it. Times have changed; Ove hasn't. Further, Ove isn't just separate from his community—he actively despises other members of his community.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Ove looks at the house opposite his, where a family with children is moving in. He looks at his ceiling and decides that he's going to put a hook up today that will impress the real estate agents who Ove knows will be wandering through his house in a few days. One of his "useful stuff" boxes full of screws is next to him, and the narrator explains that Ove and his wife divide their house into useful things that are Ove's, and lovely things that are hers. Ove studies his ceiling and comes up with a plan to screw in the appropriate kind of hook while lamenting the fact that now that he's forcibly retired, he has no purpose. As he studies his ceiling, he's interrupted by the sound of something scraping along his outside wall.
Here the author sets up several plot points and creates tension. Ove will be vacating his house, as evidenced by the impending real estate agents, and it's very important that Ove install this hook in his ceiling. We also see that Ove is reeling from being forced to retire. This represents a major upset to Ove's routine and his conception of self. Notice that Ove believes that he has no purpose without a proper job. He defines purpose as having something to do outside of his home that receives monetary compensation.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon