Ove puts on his best pants and shirt and covers his floor with a sheet of plastic. Ove isn't worried about making a mess hanging himself—rather, he knows that his house will be crawling with real estate agents as soon as he's dead. Ove puts his painting stool in the middle of the floor and thinks about how he used to paint a room in the house every six months when Sonja threatened to pay someone else to do it. Ove carefully selects a drill bit and measures to find the exact center of the ceiling. He unlocks his door so the ambulance crew won't have to break it down and installs the hook in the ceiling. As he drills, he notices that his doorbell is ringing.
Ove believes very strongly in preparing his house to weather what happens after his death. The care and concern he shows his house indicates how important houses, and his house in particular, are to him. His comments about the real estate agents also indicate that he has a possibly inflated sense of his house's worth, which is also a reflection of how Ove views his house. The house also acts as a receptacle for his memories of Sonja as he remembers painting the house for her.
Ove flings the door open to find the Lanky One and the Pregnant Foreign Woman on his doorstep. She hands him cookies and comments on how dressed up he is. The Lanky One explains that his wife is Iranian and Iranians always travel with food. He's an exceptionally awkward man and Ove looks very uninterested. The Pregnant One tries to introduce herself and thank Ove for backing up their trailer, but Ove tries to close the door on her. She sticks her arm in the door to stop it, and Ove insults the Lanky One's trailer-backing skills. The Pregnant Woman introduces herself as Parvaneh and the Lanky One as Patrick. Ove doesn't answer.
Ove is so intent on leaving his community through death that he can't even appropriately accept cookies from his neighbors. The cookies from the Pregnant Foreign woman point loosely back to Sonja taking food to Jimmy, and situates sharing food as a peace offering and a way to build community (should Ove accept it, of course). Patrick continues to show that he's the exact opposite of Ove.
Parvaneh asks Ove if he's always this unfriendly, to which Ove replies that he's not unfriendly. He asks about her Arabian cookies, and Parvaneh corrects him that they're Persian, because she's from Iran and speaks Farsi. Ove misunderstands "Farsi" and Parvaneh laughs. Ove steps back, gets his foot stuck on some tape and plastic, and struggles to free himself. When he finally does he asks Patrick what he is, and Patrick replies that he's an IT consultant. Both Ove and Parvaneh shake their heads, and Ove thinks he dislikes Parvaneh slightly less.
Ove learns that though Parvaneh is everything he isn't (Iranian, female, friendly), they also share similar feelings about Patrick's profession. They're developing a bond based on mutual distaste for jobs like Patrick's that don't do anything tangible, which fits in with Ove's grumpy nature and stubborn principles. It makes sense that he builds community with people based on shared annoyances or dislikes.
Patrick asks Ove what he's doing, and Ove scathingly replies that he's drilling. Parvaneh rolls her eyes and Ove thinks he'd find her sympathetic if her pregnancy weren't evidence that she likes Patrick. Patrick comments that with all the plastic, Ove's house looks like an episode of Dexter. Ove continues to look scathing and uninterested and Patrick trails off. As Ove tries to close his door again, Parvaneh says they actually came to see if they could borrow some things.
Patrick alienates Ove even further by mentioning a TV show that Ove certainly hasn't seen: it seems highly unlikely that Ove would be willing to pay extra for the channel that airs Dexter. Parvaneh continues to try to get Ove to participate in the community by asking to borrow things. It seems that she suspects just how depressed and lonely he really is, though he’d never admit it.
Ove raises his eyebrows and Patrick says they need a ladder and an "Eileen key." Ove corrects him that it's an Allen key, and Parvaneh and Patrick begin arguing about whether it's an Allen key or an Eileen key. As the dispute escalates, Ove takes off his jacket and goes to his shed. As Patrick runs to help Ove with the ladder, Ove notices that Anita is also in his yard. He decides to ignore her and hands Patrick a case of Allen keys. Ove is incredulous when Patrick doesn't know what size he needs and when he explains that he needs the ladder to open a jammed window from the outside.
Patrick betrays how deep his ignorance of practical tasks goes when he can't give the appropriate name for an Allen key (wrench) and legitimately expects to be able to open a window from the outside. This reinforces that in Ove's eyes, Patrick is in direct opposition to Ove's beliefs regarding how life should be lived. Anita's sudden and uninvited appearance indicates that the community is indeed tight-knit, except for Ove.
Ove turns his attention to Anita, who he thinks has gotten exceptionally old since he last saw her. She explains that she needs help with her radiators and Ove remarks that nobody on the street has jobs to go to anymore. Anita explains that she's retired, Parvaneh says she's on maternity leave, and Patrick again states that he's an IT consultant. Ove asks Anita if she has bled her radiators recently, and rolls his eyes at her reply. Parvaneh roars at Ove to stop being rude and tells Anita that Ove will certainly help. Ove asks why Rune can't do it, and Anita explains sadly that Rune is sick with Alzheimer's. Parvaneh insists that Ove help.
Ove's worldview leaves little room for aging and the things that come with aging, such as illnesses that could make someone non-functional. This again speaks to how much stock Ove puts in being “useful,” as it's entirely beyond him that people who aren’t traditionally functional can have value. Parvaneh continues to show that she's not afraid of Ove and is willing to match him in belligerence. At the same time, she’s clearly trying to make him engage in the community. It should be noted that helping people perform these tasks does fall in with Ove's sense of principles and loyalty, despite his unwillingness to do them.
Ove suggests that Anita should've thought about needing help like this when she staged the coup d'état in the Residents' Association. Anita explains quickly to Parvaneh and Patrick that there was a "wrangle" between Ove and Rune when Rune was elected head of the Association. Ove continues to be belligerent, but Anita says it doesn't matter now that Rune is so sick. She straightens and says that the authorities are going to put Rune in a home. Ove decides he's had enough and backs towards his door.
Ove's use of language to describe Rune's win suggests that he sees that the world is out to get him. Further, he insists on hanging onto these injustices as evidence for why he shouldn't help people now. This contrasts with Anita's suggestion that it doesn't matter anymore. She's prioritizing love and quality of life over principles and stubbornness, something that Ove is still unwilling to do.
Patrick steals a glance through Ove's open front door and notices marks on Ove's floor. He asks if Ove cycles inside. Anita begins to explain something about Sonja, but Ove furiously cuts her off and tells the crowd in his yard to shut up. He goes inside and slams his door. Anita, Parvaneh, and Patrick leave Ove's yard.
There's more to Sonja than meets the eye, and Ove is evidently very sensitive about that. Notably, he wants to keep Sonja to himself and not share her memory with people who might be able to help him move on. He's clinging to the community he had with Sonja rather than moving on to a newer and larger community.
Ove sits down on his stool. His heart is thumping too hard and he struggles to breathe. He thinks about his so-called early retirement and studies a photograph of himself and Sonja from 40 years ago, when they were on a bus tour in Spain. Ove remembers how Sonja folded her fingers into Ove's big hands and thinks that's the thing he misses most about her. He gets up, installs his hook, puts his suit jacket back on, and turns out his lights. He ties a noose in a rope and hangs it from his hook. Ove stands on the stool, puts his head through the noose, and kicks the stool away.
The photographs of Sonja throughout Ove's house are tangible memories of Ove and Sonja's marriage. They function to encourage Ove to take action, whether the action be trying to kill himself, as he does here, or more positive actions later in the novel. We see that Ove is truly overcome with grief as he remembers how Sonja held his hand. Ove obviously has the capacity to love deeply, but only seems to have exercised that love with one person.