A Man Called Ove


Fredrik Backman

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Themes and Colors
Memory and Grief Theme Icon
Rules and Order Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Community Theme Icon
Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Man Called Ove, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Memory and Grief

When Ove first appears in the novel, he's a man driven to suicide by his memories and grief over Sonja, his late wife. Ove attempts to make his memories of Sonja perform the same actions as she did while she was alive—motivating and inspiring him to do the right things—and though Ove’s memories of Sonja are powerful, they aren’t enough to pull Ove out of his grief. In this way, the novel sets out…

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Rules and Order

Ove is obsessive about enforcing rules and creating a sense of order for himself. The narrator states that he "just had a sense of there needing to be a bit of order in the greater scheme of things." However, the novel offers several different ways to think about rules and order by offering three distinct systems for consideration: Ove's system, which is inflexible and often self-serving; the systems employed by government bureaucracy and the "white…

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Love, Family, and Community

Although the novel initially portrays Ove as a perpetual loner, it soon becomes apparent that Ove is a person driven by love for his family as represented by Sonja, his late wife. After her death, Ove becomes unmoored and suffers as a widower until he begins allowing others in his community to enter his life and begins to form a new family of sorts with them. In this way, the novel takes a careful…

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Principles, Fairness, and Loyalty

As a boy and a teenager, Ove learns from his father that fairness and loyalty are two of the most important qualities in a man. He learns that it's extremely important to act fairly and honorably, even if the outcome is less desirable because of it; Ove believes in the importance of a job well done or a thing done correctly over getting ahead. Though this belief is certainly a part of Ove's conception of…

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