Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Anxious People: Chapter 51 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator explains that the truth is seldom complicated. People just want it to be complicated so if they work it out ahead of time, they feel smart. This story is about a hostage drama, a bridge, idiots, and an apartment viewing. It’s also a love story.
This passage seems to imply that Jack isn’t correct; somehow, the right answer is simpler than the robber posing as a real estate agent. But by noting that this is a love story, too, the novel also offers some hope that things are going to start looking up for the characters in romantic relationships.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
When Zara sees the psychologist for the last time before the hostage drama, she arrives uncharacteristically early. She accuses Nadia of being vegan when she notices her lunch of kale. Nadia asks why Zara is so ready to throw money away to talk about Nadia, not Zara. Zara says she’ll explain herself next time—maybe. Turning away to count the windows in the building across the street, Zara asks why Nadia hasn’t suggested antidepressants. Nadia explains that antidepressants often smooth out highs and lows, and she thinks Zara needs to feel more feelings, not fewer, because she thinks Zara is lonely. Zara asks what will happen if she kills herself. Nadia says Zara won’t do that, since she said she’d come for her next appointment.
Zara remains evasive, but she’s becoming a bit more open. Now, she’s willing to admit that she does have thoughts and feelings and might someday be willing to talk about them, which contrasts greatly with her past attempts to cover up any indication that she ever feels anything. As Nadia explains why she thinks antidepressants aren’t the right choice for Zara, she implicitly suggests that Zara is already on the right track by starting counseling. Zara is already slightly less lonely because she talks to Nadia on a regular basis, and hopefully, Zara will be able to start connecting with others, too.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Nadia says she trusts Zara and believes that Zara is afraid of hurting people. She thinks Zara is more empathetic and moral than she lets on, which deeply offends Zara. Zara insults veganism again, and Nadia points out that she changes the subject whenever they get close to talking about feelings. Nadia asks if Zara mocks veganism and environmentalism because it’s the opposite of the finance industry. Zara snaps that she’s defending the economic system, which people have made too strong. She points out that these days, nobody pays off their mortgages. Banks offer financing rather than loans, and apartments turn into investments rather than homes. She thinks the divisions between rich and poor keep getting bigger and nobody, not even the rich, feel rich. All you can do is borrow money to buy an expensive version of what you already have.
Despite Zara’s offense when Nadia suggests she’s empathetic and moral, Zara does come off as both of these things as she describes how the finance industry has essentially made it impossible for people to genuinely achieve their dreams. She implies that modern banking and finance systems make it so that the goalposts are constantly moving for the average person. Now, this means that people never actually own their homes. This also helps explain why, for instance, the man lost everything in the market crash—homeowners lose out because they don’t own their homes, and the banks look out for themselves.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Zara can barely breathe when Nadia asks if Zara feels guiltier about the people she’s lent too much money to or the ones she hasn’t lent to at all. Snorting, Zara returns to mocking veganism and acts like she’s ready to leave. Nadia asks if Zara can tell her one personal thing before she leaves, like if Zara has ever been in love. Zara says she plays death metal very loud when she gets home, because it’s “so loud that it makes your head silent.” Nadia writes Zara the name of a pair of good headphones so she can get the same effect elsewhere, and maybe then Zara can get out more and meet people. In the elevator, Zara thinks about the loans she’s granted and refused. Then she presses the emergency stop button.
Readers know that Nadia’s question no doubt strikes a nerve for Zara—she blames herself for the man’s suicide because she denied him the loan that would’ve saved him financially. But Zara isn’t yet willing to admit this to anyone, and so she’s relegated to sobbing in the elevator alone rather than reaching out to Nadia. This passage also explains where Zara got her headphones, which shows again that Zara does take her sessions with Nadia seriously and values Nadia’s opinion.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
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