A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator says that death is strange. It's often the greatest motivator to keep living, and most people fear it. People said that Ove was bitter, but the narrator insists that Ove wasn't: he just didn't smile all the time. The narrator says that time is funny too, and one of the most painful moments of life is when someone realizes they have more life to look back on than forward to. Some people live for other things, like grandchildren. When Sonja died, Ove stopped living.
The narrator finally provides language for the way that Ove has used memory. Rather than living for others in his old age, he simply stopped living in the present and instead remained stuck in his memories. Sonja's death made this even more pronounced by robbing him of the only thing he ever truly lived for.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
The hospital staff refuse to let Parvaneh follow Ove's stretcher into the operating room and it takes Patrick, Jimmy, Mirsad, Anders, Adrian, and four nurses to keep her from following. She overturns benches and screams at doctors. At 3:30am, they finally let Parvaneh into Ove's room. She nearly crumbles when she sees Ove, but steadies herself and approaches him. She starts crying, hits his arm, and tells him he can't die. Ove hoarsely tells her to calm down. Parvaneh takes his hand and sits down. He strokes her hair and confirms that she didn't let the ambulance into the residential area.
Parvaneh comes to take the place of an adult daughter that Ove never got to have, while Ove takes the place of Parvaneh's own father. She takes responsibility for Ove in the hospital, which brings the idea and the power of one's chosen family back around. The family that Ove and Parvaneh have chosen to create over the last week is strong, caring, and willing to rally for the community.
Themes
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
After 40 minutes a young doctor finally goes into Ove's room. He mispronounces Parvaneh's name and seems confused that an Iranian woman is listed as next of kin for the very Swedish-looking Ove. Ove and Parvaneh snicker at each other and the doctor begins to explain that Ove has a heart problem in complicated medical jargon. Parvaneh looks at him blankly and the doctor says that Ove's heart is too big. Parvaneh stares at the doctor and at Ove for a minute and then starts laughing uncontrollably. Ove rolls his eyes and the doctor looks confused. Finally, the doctor says that if Ove takes medication they can control it for months or years. Parvaneh waves her hand and states that Ove is lousy at dying.
Ove and Parvaneh's deadpan reaction to the doctor's confusion seeks to normalize the idea of a chosen family. The fact that Ove has an enlarged heart gives new meaning to his good deeds throughout his life. It's a tangible reminder that Ove does indeed have a big heart in a symbolic sense, though it's certainly not a positive thing in a medical sense. It shows that Ove has learned that love is extremely important and can do great things—it's easy enough to infer that Ove's symbolic big heart is his reason for still being alive.
Themes
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Ove returns home four days later, supported by Parvaneh and Patrick. The cat is waiting outside the door. Inside, Parvaneh explains the drawings all over Ove's table that Nasanin and the seven-year-old drew. She looks embarrassed at the writing on the drawings and explains that her father died in Iran and the girls have never had a grandfather, but Ove tells her the girls can call him what they want to. He puts the drawing that says "to Granddad" in the top spot on the fridge.
As Ove returns home, his entire community is there to help him and support him. The girls have also claimed Ove as a real family member by considering him a grandfather. Ove's fridge art continues to function as a reminder of his family and their love, just as the photographs of Sonja function to remind him of her and what she'd think of things.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire A Man Called Ove LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Ove fetches boxes from the attic, and that evening Parvaneh, Nasanin, and the seven-year-old help put Sonja's things away. After 9:00pm, as the girls sleep on Ove's couch, Parvaneh grips Ove's arm and they go back to the hospital. Parvaneh gives birth to a boy.
The blue crib will finally get some use, and Ove gets to participate in the baby's birth like he never got to with Sonja. Finally, too, Ove agrees to put Sonja's memories away and live in the present.
Themes
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon