Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Anxious People: Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Returning to Zara’s past counseling appointments, when Zara and her psychologist meet next, Zara reveals that she has found a hobby: attending “viewings of middle-class apartments.” It’s shocking to encounter people who plan to renovate with “the same hands [they] eat with.” Zara snorts at the psychologist’s slack jaw; people like the psychologist get upset by the silliest things. When the psychologist, after hearing Zara describe some of the times she’s offended people, suggests that Zara stop getting into conflicts, Zara says conflicts are great. If she gets into conflicts, she can win.
This conversation reveals that the psychologist and Zara really have very little in common. The psychologist is, presumably, one of those middle-class people Zara finds so fascinating, while Zara’s perverse fascination with the middle class is in turn almost unbelievable to the psychologist. But then, Zara begins to get a bit more personal. However, noting that she likes winning does raise the question of whether winning actually serves Zara. For instance, did she feel like she won when she denied the man the loan?
Themes
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The psychologist asks Zara what she does with her money. Zara says she buys “distance from other people.” Then, the psychologist asks why Zara likes her job. Zara explains that she’s an analyst, not an economist; analysts make money all the time, while economists only earn when the bank’s customers are doing well. After arguing a bit more, Zara says that only weak people (like the psychologist) like their jobs. At this, the psychologist suggests they end for the day.
Zara seems unaware of what she’s doing, but she begins to explain why she’s so lonely: she goes out of her way to distance herself from other people. Notice that she cleverly doesn’t answer the psychologist’s question about why she likes her job. However, she again implies that being happy isn’t something worth caring about—or possibly, she doesn’t think she deserves to be happy.
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Before she goes, Zara asks if the psychologist thinks there are bad people, and if bad people know they’re bad. The psychologist says she believes there are bad people, but most people can’t live with knowing they’re bad, and so they justify the bad things they do. Zara almost reaches for the letter in her purse, and she almost confesses that she’s been looking at apartments for 10 years. But she says nothing. Once Zara is gone, the psychologist searches for apartments in the area. She doesn’t know, though, that Zara has specific criteria: they must have balconies, and they must have a view of the bridge. Meanwhile, Zara stops the elevator and sobs in it. She’s never read the letter in her purse because her psychologist is right: she won’t be able to live knowing she’s a bad person.
This passage reveals that Zara’s apartment viewing outings began after the man jumped off the bridge. Looking at the bridge from apartment balconies comes off as some kind of penance that Zara believes she must serve to make up for her role in the man’s death. This also shows readers that Zara believes she’s a bad person, which may explain Zara’s strange responses to the psychologist’s questions—she seems to be going out of her way to avoid doing or saying anything that forces her to confront this.
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Assumptions  Theme Icon
Quotes