Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Anxious People: Chapter 69 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It’s snowing outside, and Nadia is on the phone with her dad. When Nadia hangs up, Zara knocks at the door and lets herself in. She’s holding a letter. Confused, Nadia asks if they have an appointment, but then she notices Zara is trembling and looks ready to burst. Finally, Zara asks if Nadia likes her job and if she’s happy. Nadia says she’s happy enough—then, she asks why Zara is really here. 
This is the first time that readers have seen Zara ever take her letter out of her purse, which makes it clear that something has changed for her. It’s also notable that Zara expresses interest in Nadia’s happiness, something that Zara has written off as pointless previously. The hostage drama seems to have had a significant effect on Zara.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Zara says that in an earlier session, Nadia asked her why she likes her job. Zara has had time to think, and she realizes that she liked her job because she believed in it. She believes in banks: they make things slow and keep people from making decisions that are too terrible. The housing market is going to crash again, and the banks will say people were greedy, though most people aren’t. They just want something to cling to and a place to raise their kids. Nadia asks if something happened since their last session, but Zara can’t answer. Instead, she says that bank employees used to know how the bank made money. Now, maybe three people in each bank know that. She was one of them, so she’s handed in her notice. Zara’s not sure where to go now, but Nadia says this is a good place to start.
Notice how in this passage, Zara mostly speaks in the past tense; Zara liked her job, and she no longer has it. She’s become disillusioned with her job, and while she still thinks banks have a place in the modern world, she’s no longer willing to be one of those people who blames others for dreaming and wanting to make a life for themselves. It’s also noteworthy that Zara is willing to admit weakness, as when she admits she’s not sure where to go from here. However, now that Zara is more willing to open up to Nadia, this offers hope that Zara will continue to improve and experiment with connecting with others.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Zara falls silent. Eventually, Nadia says that Zara once asked her to describe panic attacks, and she doesn’t think her answer was very good. She doesn’t have a better answer now, but she knows it helps to talk about it. Lots of people suffer from anxiety, but society isn’t sympathetic to anxiety sufferers. When a person has anxiety, their brain convinces them that they are going to die—but they’re not. Zara adds, “Yet!”
Nadia carefully names what Zara has felt for years: crushing anxiety. She suggests that in today’s society, people aren’t good enough at talking about how they feel, and this makes people feel alone and more afraid than they need to be. Again, the remedy for this, she insinuates, is connecting with others.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Quotes
Zara tries to make more jokes, but she finally begins crying out of terror. Hesitantly, she lets go of the letter, and Nadia picks it up. Zara can’t say that she came here the first time exactly 10 years after the man jumped. She can’t say that she needs someone to read what the man wrote and then stop her from jumping. Zara wants to tell Nadia about witnessing Jack save her, but she can’t. Nadia wants to hug Zara, but instead, she opens the envelope and pulls out a four-word note.
This is also the first time that Zara has ever allowed herself to cry in front of another person, a mark of how much she’s come to trust Nadia. She’s also finally able to ask for help reading the letter, which suggests that Zara is ready to, as the robber did, take responsibility for her actions and figure out if she truly was at fault.
Themes
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
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