Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Anxious People: Chapter 36 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Julia tells the bank robber to give her the pistol: she needs to shoot the lock out of the bathroom door. The bank robber argues and then, a voice in the bathroom says, “don’t shoot.” When the door opens, it reveals a middle-aged man dressed in underwear, socks, and a rabbit head. He says he’s just doing his job. The man is clearly a real Stockholmer, not an idiot like Jim and Jack mean when they use “Stockholmer,” or gay like Estelle means when she says “Stockholmer.” He asks Anna-Lena to tell them to not shoot. Roger stares at Anna-Lena, who’s sobbing. She says this is Lennart, and it’s not what Roger thinks. Roger asks if Lennart is another prospective buyer.
It reveals just how committed Roger is to his and Anna-Lena’s apartment-flipping scheme when his first thought is that Lennart is another prospective buyer. The assumption that Anna-Lena seems to make is that Roger will infer that she and Lennart are sexually involved, which, if she’s to be believed, isn’t actually what’s happening. It is, however, very unclear what’s going on between Anna-Lena and Lennart—and what Roger has to do with it.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
When Anna-Lena can’t answer, Roger lurches for Lennart. Ro and Julia hold him back. This upsets Anna-Lena. Retirement hasn’t been easy for Roger, as his bosses forced him to retire—and it was a shock for Roger to discover that the business kept on working fine without him. The pain of that has made him a bit slow on the uptake. As Roger shouts at Lennart, Zara tells the bank robber to take charge and shoot the rabbit in the leg. The robber refuses. Lennart begs the robber not to shoot. He says that his head’s stuck, and that he’s with Anna-Lena.
Zara’s command to shoot the rabbit is an oblique reference to Looney Tunes’s Elmer Fudd, whose catchphrase is “kill the wabbit.” This injects some humor into an otherwise tense scene, especially since Zara seems to have no idea what she’s referencing. This passage also portrays Roger as a victim who is, in many ways, not getting what he wanted out of life. He wanted to keep working, and now, he wants to figure out what Anna-Lena has been doing with Lennart.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Roger has never been a man of many words, but he loves Anna-Lena. He knows her mirrored cabinet in the bathroom is important to her, so he always installs it first in a new apartment and makes sure the hinges stay tight. But now, she’s saying that Roger was never supposed to find out. She says she and Lennart met on the internet and it “just happened.” Roger asks the bank robber how much they want for shooting Lennart. Anna-Lena shrieks that a murder might make the price per square foot go up.
This passage makes it clear that people don’t necessarily need to use their words to show a partner they love them. Roger shows Anna-Lena he loves her by tending so closely to her cabinet. Anna-Lena’s actions—or at least what it seems like her actions were—show Roger that she isn’t fully invested in their relationship. It still looks like she and Lennart are romantically or sexually involved.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Anna-Lena reveals that things between her and Lennart have been going on for a year, and it’s all been for Roger’s sake. Lennart tells Roger that he’s a professional interrupter. Handing Roger a business card, he says that sometimes he's the alcoholic neighbor. This is the most expensive package: he sits on the toilet in the rabbit head. People don’t forget what they see when they open the bathroom door, so they don’t buy the apartment. Anna-Lena asks if Roger remembers the apartment last year with the drunk neighbor throwing spaghetti. That was Lennart. Roger realizes that his negotiating tactics don’t actually work. Anna-Lena says she just wanted Roger to win. She doesn’t say that she just wants a home.
Finally, readers learn that Anna-Lena and Lennart’s relationship isn’t sexual—Anna-Lena has been hiring him to make Roger feel good, powerful, and needed. In a way, she is trying to show Roger that she loves him, but this message is not getting through in the moment. Instead, Roger simply feels bad about himself and betrayed by Anna-Lena. However, note that Anna-Lena isn’t being fully truthful here. She’s turned to hiring Lennart because, for whatever reason, she’s unwilling to tell Roger that she wants to stop flipping apartments.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Quotes
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Anxious People PDF
Roger paces, kicks the baseboards, and then rushes Lennart and knocks him to the ground. Julia helps Lennart up and tells him to get out of the bathroom. Roger’s nose is bleeding, but he rejects Anna-Lena’s offer of a tissue and strides into the hallway. Anna-Lena walks into the closet and sits on a stool. She doesn’t notice the cold air blowing in.
In this moment, Anna-Lena and Roger are wholly unwilling to try to talk to each other. They’re both still reeling from Roger finding out about Lennart and Anna-Lena’s betrayal. Being so wrapped up in her own emotions causes Anna-Lena to ignore something readers should pay attention to: the draft in the closet.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
“Stockholm” isn’t just a place. It’s a catch-all for people who are irritating, superior, and don’t understand. Everyone has Stockholmers in their lives, even people who live in Stockholm. Everyone in the apartment is silent until the bank robber says, “forgive me” and “sorry.” Everyone hears, and they all know what it’s like to make a mistake. Everyone needs to be allowed to forgive someone.
Lennart is a born-and-bred Stockholmer, but he’s also Roger’s “Stockholmer” in this scenario. When the bank robber apologizes, they give everyone else an opportunity to forgive them—but not necessarily the person they’re really mad at. So, Anna-Lena and Roger remain at odds, but they’re perhaps softened a bit by hearing the robber apologize.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Quotes