A Man Called Ove

Cars Symbol Icon

Throughout the book, different makes of cars are used to signify different characters’ values and temperaments. For instance, Saabs: when Ove’s father dies, one of the only things he leaves for his son is the Saab he was given by his boss at the railroad—a reward for his loyalty and good character. Ove and his father spent many Saturdays working on the car together, and Ove remains loyal to that particular car manufacturer for the rest of his life, owning only Saabs. Not only does Ove seem to see the car as having a conservative (rather than flashy) design, but it’s also a Swedish manufacturer—meaning that Saabs represent modesty, sensibleness, and arguably even a type of conservativism or nationalism. BMWs and Škodas—both foreign cars—are cast in a different light. The man in the white shirt, who is portrayed as a bureaucrat and a jerk, is associated with the Škoda he drives. When Ove’s neighbor, Rune, buys a BMW after his adult son leaves Sweden for America, Ove seems to see it as a sign that Rune has lost integrity, noting that he used to drive only Volvos (another Swedish car). Furthermore, the BMW is a two-seater and can therefore only accommodate only Rune and Anita, which stands as a rejection of Rune's extended family and community. Ove sees Rune's BMW as a symbol of Rune giving up on his family and on life, and therefore takes it as an unforgivable offense. The trajectory of Rune's health supports Ove's assessment: within a year of buying the BMW and symbolically rejecting his community, Rune is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and slowly loses his connections to his community as he loses his memory. In this way, cars are used to indicate a wide variety of aspects of different characters’ personalities.

Cars Quotes in A Man Called Ove

The A Man Called Ove quotes below all refer to the symbol of Cars. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Washington Square Press edition of A Man Called Ove published in 2015.
Chapter 28 Quotes

After the accident Ove bought a Saab 95 so he'd have space for Sonja's wheelchair. That same year Rune bought a Volvo 245 to have space for a stroller. Three years later Sonja got a more modern wheelchair and Ove bought a hatchback, a Saab 900. Rune bought a Volvo 265 because Anita had started talking about having another child.

Related Characters: Ove, Sonja, Rune, Anita
Related Symbols: Cars
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rune and Anita's lad grew up and cleared out of home as soon as he got the chance. And Rune went and bought a sporty BMW, one of those cars that only has space for two people and a handbag. Because now it was only him and Anita, as he told Sonja when they met in the parking area. "And one can't drive a Volvo all of one's life," he said with an attempt at a halfhearted smile. She could hear that he was trying to swallow his tears. And that was the moment when Ove realized that a part of Rune had given up forever.

Related Characters: Rune (speaker), Ove, Sonja
Related Symbols: Cars
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cars Symbol Timeline in A Man Called Ove

The timeline below shows where the symbol Cars appears in A Man Called Ove. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. A Man Called Ove Buys a Computer That is Not a Computer
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
The narrator introduces Ove: he's 59 and drives a Saab. He's in an Apple store, holding a box and grumpily and suspiciously asking a young... (full context)
2. (Three Weeks Earlier) A Man Called Ove Makes His Neighborhood Inspection
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty 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... (full context)
3. A Man Called Ove Backs Up With a Trailer
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...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.... (full context)
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
4. A Man Called Ove Does Not Pay a Three-Kroner Surcharge
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...he inherited from his father. That morning, Ove had unlocked his garage and then his Saab using real keys, not automated systems. As he drove through the parking area, he didn't... (full context)
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
It usually takes Ove 14 minutes to reach the florist's, but today a black Mercedes tailgates Ove's Saab. Ove refuses to drive over the speed limit and the Mercedes starts... (full context)
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Ove sees the Mercedes enter the shopping center parking lot, and the two cars begin racing for the two... (full context)
5. A Man Called Ove
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Several months later, the director sent for Ove's father and showed him an old Saab that had been in an accident. Ove's father deemed it fixable, and the director handed... (full context)
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
On Saturdays, Ove's father would teach Ove how to work on the Saab, and on Sundays they went to church as a way of missing Ove's mother. Soon,... (full context)
6. A Man Called Ove and a Bicycle That Should Have Been Left Where Bicycles Are Left
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...his utility accounts are paid, and the newspaper subscription is canceled. Ove sits in his Saab and thinks he can probably die today if he can avoid his neighbors. He sees... (full context)
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Ove gets out of his Saab, locks the garage door, and heads back to his house. As he passes the bike... (full context)
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
...Anita, moved in on the same day that Ove and Sonja did. Rune drove a Volvo then, but has since upgraded to a BMW. Ove thinks you can't reason with people... (full context)
9. A Man Called Ove Bleeds a Radiator
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...years. Ove can't even remember how it started, but it also had to do with cars. In the beginning, Ove and Rune had been friends for the sake of their wives,... (full context)
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Rune bought his BMW long after that and Ove thought he was an idiot for doing so. Sonja only... (full context)
10. A Man Who Was Ove and a House That Ove Built
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
After Ove turned 18, he passed his driving test, sold his father's Saab, and bought a marginally newer blue Saab. At this time in Sweden people began talking... (full context)
11. A Man Called Ove and a Lanky One Who Can't Open a Window Without Falling Off a Ladder
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...fetches a plastic tube out of his shed and heads towards his garage. A white Škoda races into the residential area and takes Ove entirely by surprise. Ove roars at the... (full context)
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Ove angrily walks to where the Škoda was parked in front of Rune and Anita's house. He picks up cigarette butts that... (full context)
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Ove enters his garage and studies his Saab. He looks over his shoulder and hopes that nothing happened to the cat, because he... (full context)
12. A Man Who Was Ove and One Day He Had Enough
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...and quieter. Ove's landlady found him a garage in which he could work on his Saab, and Ove took the car apart and reassembled it. When he was done, he sold... (full context)
15. A Man Called Ove and a Delayed Train
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
As Ove walks by the bicycle shed, he sees the white Škoda. In addition to the man in the white shirt, there's a woman in a white... (full context)
16. A Man Who Was Ove and a Truck In the Forest
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...under the table, and he asked Sonja's father about his Scania truck. Ove mentioned that Saab is making Scania trucks now, and Sonja's father angrily said that Saab making the vehicles... (full context)
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...that Sonja's father always drove Scania trucks and felt quite betrayed when Scania merged with Saab, while Ove had suddenly become very interested in Scania vehicles after the merger. Ove asked... (full context)
18. A Man Who Was Ove and a Cat Called Ernest
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...who it was or why. When Sonja returned from her meeting and got in the Saab, she told Ove that they needed to buy a house. When Ove asked why, she... (full context)
19. A Man Called Ove and a Cat That Was Broken When He Came
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
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...Ove and the cat disagree on whether the cat should sit on newspaper in the Saab. When the cat scratches through the paper, Ove slams on the brakes and the cat... (full context)
20. A Man Called Ove and an Intruder
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Ove stays in the parked Saab for nearly twenty minutes. The cat gets agitated and then falls asleep. Ove looks over... (full context)
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...in the present day, Ove finally wakes the cat up and gets out of the Saab. He hears an unfamiliar female voice calling his name in a friendly way. The woman... (full context)
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Lena loses Ove's attention as he races past her towards the Škoda that's driving in the residential area. Ove bangs on the window and startles the woman... (full context)
21. A Man Who Was Ove and Countries Where They Play Foreign Music in Restaurants
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
José called Ove over and shouted "hospital." Ove decided the car model must be "hospital." He pointed to himself and said "Saab," and José pointed at... (full context)
22. A Man Called Ove and Someone in a Garage
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Ove and the cat sit in the Saab outside the hospital. This is Ove's third trip to the hospital in a week and... (full context)
24. A Man Called Ove and a Brat Who Draws In Color
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When Ove leaves the hospital, the Saab is filled with people. Parvaneh gives Nasanin crayons, which makes Ove angry. Patrick is wedged... (full context)
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Jimmy appears at the passenger window and asks Ove if he can eat in the car. Ove puts down more newspaper and tells Jimmy to make his phone stop making noise.... (full context)
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Ove puts the Saab in the garage and considers trying to kill himself with the exhaust again. He thinks... (full context)
26. A Man Called Ove and a Society Where No One Can Repair a Bicycle Anymore
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...says he works in a cafe. He explains that he's saving money to buy a car and says he's looking at a Renault. Ove loses his composure and yells that the... (full context)
27. A Man Called Ove and a Driving Lesson
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Sonja usually offered an account of their vehicular upgrades over the years, with Rune purchasing Volvos and Ove purchasing Saabs, until one day Rune purchased a BMW. Ove insisted you can't... (full context)
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Back in the present, Parvaneh tries to get into Ove's car with a bottle of fizzy juice and then tries to change the radio station, both... (full context)
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...behind Parvaneh. They rev their engine. When the light turns green, Parvaneh promptly stalls the car and the men behind lay on their horn and gesture rudely at Parvaneh. The Saab... (full context)
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
...sobs that everything is so stressful. The SUV keeps honking. Ove gets out of the Saab, walks around to the driver's door of the SUV, and rips the door open. He... (full context)
28. A Man Who Was Ove and a Man Who Was Rune
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...fix what happened or even how the conflict started. It ended when Rune bought the BMW. The narrator insists that the connection between cars and emotions is the only thing that... (full context)
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
The narrator explains again the men's string of cars: cars to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs and more children that never arrived. The narrator wonders... (full context)
29. A Man Called Ove and a Bender
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Adrian is standing behind the Saab looking lost. Ove gives Adrian his cup and unhooks the bike for him. He asks... (full context)
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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Ove insists that Adrian has more pressing worries, since he wants to buy a French car, but promises not to say anything. (full context)
30. A Man Called Ove and a Society Without Him
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Ove bought his Saab thirteen years ago. Not long after he bought it, GM acquired Saab. Ove spent the... (full context)
31. A Man Called Ove Backs Up a Trailer. Again.
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Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
...he goes to find them, he notices the man in the white shirt driving his Škoda through the residential area. Ove drops the phone and runs out to yell at him. (full context)
33. A Man Called Ove and an Inspection Tour That Is Not the Usual
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...the paperwork. The narrator says that Anita hadn't seen Ove so angry since a possible Saab-Volvo merger in 1977. (full context)
34. A Man Called Ove and a Boy in the House Next Door
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...that afternoon, when the man in the white shirt returned with police to get his Škoda unblocked, the trailer and the Škoda were both gone. The man lost his composure and... (full context)
36. A Man Called Ove and a Whiskey
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Ove has been explaining how to properly own a car to Parvaneh as they drive. It's apparent to Ove that Parvaneh isn't listening, as she's... (full context)
37. A Man Called Ove and a Lot of Bastards Sticking Their Noses In
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...from herself and more from Anita and Rune. Everyone but Parvaneh heads back to the car. When she joins the group and Ove asks why she stayed, she tells him "girl... (full context)
38. A Man Called Ove and the End of a Story
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...means no harm. The sales associate tells Jimmy that Ove is interrogating him about the car he drives. He says he doesn't drive one. Ove turns to Jimmy and insists you... (full context)
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...leans down and says that he always felt this way when he got a new car. She hugs him, thanks him, and calls him "Granddad" before running to her room. Patrick... (full context)
A Man Called Ove and an Epilogue
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...preferring physical photos instead. By fall, Lena moves in with Anders and Ove backs their moving van in for them. The next spring, Ove shows Sonja the invitation for Mirsad and Jimmy's... (full context)
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
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...manuals, insurance documents, and a letter for Parvaneh. The letter says that Adrian gets the Saab and explains who to contact for Ove's money, which came from Sonja's father. Ove tells... (full context)
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...the man is less sure. He asks to see the garage, and Parvaneh asks what car he drives. The man looks her in the eye and says he drives a Saab. (full context)