A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ove looks out his window and sees a short foreign woman gesturing furiously at a very tall blond man driving a tiny Japanese car and trying to back a trailer in between the houses. Ove curses and storms outside. When he yells at the foreign woman, she yells right back and catches Ove off guard. Ove reminds the woman that you can't drive in the residential area and notices that she's quite pregnant.
Ove's rage is indiscriminate: he's willing to yell at pregnant women as much as he's willing to yell at cats. The Japanese car gives Ove more justification for his rage. His tone indicates that he doesn't think very highly of cars that aren't Swedish.
Themes
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The woman's husband, whom Ove deems the Lanky One, gets out of the car and his wife, the Foreign Pregnant Woman, rages at him in Farsi. The Lanky One remains unfazed by his wife's yelling and tells Ove that scraping his house was only a "little accident." Ove fixes the Lanky One with a murderous stare and yells that the trailer is in his flowerbed. The Foreign Pregnant Woman seems unwilling to defend her husband, so he gets back into the car to try again. Both Ove and the pregnant woman mutter "Christ" at the same time, and Ove dislikes the woman less than he originally did.
The Lanky One seems to be the exact opposite of Ove: he's very easygoing and cannot muster an appropriately penitent reaction to having backed the trailer into Ove's house. The Foreign Pregnant Woman, on the other hand, seems to be more like Ove than Ove would like to think. She's similarly unimpressed with her husband's driving and lack of understanding, and seems unafraid to yell right back at Ove. Note also Ove’s tendency to define and even name the people he encounters based on their physical characteristics.
Themes
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The Lanky One backs the trailer over Ove's mailbox. Ove storms to the door of the car and yells at the Lanky One to get out. The Lanky One sheepishly agrees and Ove gets into the car, noting with derision that the car is an automatic. He thinks that people who drive automatics maybe shouldn't be allowed to vote. When Ove puts the car in reverse, it starts shrieking at him. The Lanky One jogs over to explain that it's the reverse signal and tries to explain other features to Ove, but Ove rolls up the window in his face and backs the car and trailer up perfectly between the two houses. The Lanky One thanks Ove for the help as Ove insults his driving abilities.
Ove's thoughts on automatic cars mirror how he thinks about work. He wants people to actually do things, make things, and have control of and fully engage in activities like driving. Ove demonstrates that he can do all these things when he backs the car perfectly. We see too that Ove is so disconnected from other people, he's unable to even graciously accept thanks and participate in standard scripts for social interaction.
Themes
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The Pregnant Foreign Woman grumbles that the Lanky One shouldn't be allowed to rewind a cassette, and thanks Ove. Ove reminds them that they can't drive in the residential area. As he heads back to his house Ove remarks out loud on the urine smell on his paving stones. The pregnant woman doesn't seem to understand why this is a surprise.
The Pregnant Foreign Woman's grumbling suggests that her husband is truly the antithesis to everything Ove believes in, if he supposedly can't perform simple tasks like rewinding a cassette.
Themes
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Ove goes into his house muttering about his new neighbors. He stares at his living room ceiling and loses himself in his thoughts. The ringing doorbell interrupts him. After three rings Ove throws the door open and knocks the three-year-old girl on the other side onto her bottom. The seven-year-old girl accompanying the little one hands Ove a container of rice and chicken. When Ove asks if she's selling it, the girl states imperiously that she lives here. Ove accepts the food and stares at the flapping three year old on his porch. The older one calls the little one Nasanin, and they walk to the Pregnant Foreign Woman across the street.
Ove shows again that he's very distrustful of people, including children. In his mind they must be selling him something, because he doesn't expect people to perform acts of kindness without looking for something in return. This raises the question of why he feels this way, especially since he doesn't seem happy or satisfied with his life and this outlook. This attitude also continues to separate Ove from his community, even as it reaches out to him.
Themes
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Ove puts the container in the fridge and returns to his living room. He realizes that it's gotten dark and he can't possibly drill after dark. Ove thinks that it's anyone's guess when the lights will be turned off again. Ove puts his box of useful stuff away and watches TV. He eats the food from the Pregnant Foreign Woman out of the container. He thinks that tomorrow, he's putting up the hook.
Even if his reasons are unclear, Ove still has a very clear sense of order to his evening: drilling after dark isn't okay and the lights will be left on, which is puzzling and unclear but seems to make perfect sense to Ove. This alienates Ove from the reader, though it’s later revealed that he’s planning to kill himself and is trying to avoid causing any trouble or “mess” (like leaving the lights on).
Themes
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon