Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Anxious People: Chapter 54 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Estelle knocks on the closet door and asks Julia if she’d like a snack before the pizzas arrive. Touched, but secretly hoping Estelle will decline, Julia invites Estelle inside. Estelle sits on a trunk, says she’s thrilled that they have a female bank robber, and asks what Julia and Anna-Lena have been talking about. When Anna-Lena says they were talking about marriage, Estelle enthusiastically says she’s been married to Knut “forever” and says that you stay married that long by fighting for it. She advises that you have to listen to each other, but not so much that you can’t forgive each other. Unhappily, Julia says that she and Ro used to get along super well, and they were really good at making up, but she’s not so sure about things anymore.
For being so intent on making sure everyone is fed and comfortable, Estelle is pretty oblivious to Julia hoping she won’t enter the closet. However, as soon as she joins the conversation, she offers yet another perspective on marriage. As someone who’s enjoyed a longer marriage than either Anna-Lena or Julia, Estelle has had more time to think and practice how to interact with Knut in order to keep things moving. All women, though, seem to suggest that fighting is a normal part of being married—assuming couples are willing to forgive.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Thoughtfully, Estelle says that she and Knut decided long ago that they could fight, but they could never say anything intentionally hurtful—eventually one of them would win, and marriages can’t survive when one person wins. Estelle begins digging in the chest, which offends Anna-Lena. Anna-Lena’s displeasure disappears when Estelle pulls out wine. Julia explains that she can’t drink at all while pregnant and remembers how Ro told the midwife once that she was drinking for three. She bursts out laughing as Estelle drinks from the bottle and passes it to Anna-Lena. Anna-Lena explains to Estelle that both Ro and Roger are idiots.
Again, Estelle suggests that fighting is par for the course in a marriage. The important part is being willing to fight in such a way as to not cause permanent rifts in a marriage. Estelle’s comfort in this apartment is also something to note—she’s either very nosy to feel okay about getting into people’s wine and offering to dig through a stranger’s freezer, or she may have more of a relationship to the apartment than she’s let on thus far.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Estelle says Knut isn’t an idiot, but she wishes he were here so she wasn’t alone. Julia asks how she knew there would be wine in the chest, and Estelle explains that she hides wine in the closet at home, a habit Knut used to think was silly. She amends this to say that Knut still thinks it’s silly. She adds that someone who doesn’t want to look like an alcoholic would hide their wine in the closet. Anna-Lena points out that alcoholics have empty bottles, not a wine stash, and Estelle says, tears in her eyes, that Knut would’ve agreed. Gently, Julia asks Estelle if Knut isn’t really parking the car.
As Estelle and Anna-Lena share the bottle of wine, they lose some of their inhibitions. Anna-Lena, for instance, no longer is so caught up in following proper apartment viewing etiquette; she’s far more interested in chatting with her new friends. Julia picks up on the fact that Estelle’s language betrays that Knut probably isn’t out parking the car—and likely hasn’t been around for some time.
Themes
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon