Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Anxious People: Chapter 71 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It’s not entirely true that a person’s personality is made up of past experiences—people want to believe that they can make better choices tomorrow. The girl (the robber) always thought it was weird that she couldn’t be mad at the robber’s mom. Once, her mom slurred to the girl that she’d never be a romantic because “children from broken homes don’t believe in everlasting love.” The girl told her mom she was wrong, and the girl turned out to be right: only romantics rob banks for their children’s sake.
It’s not entirely clear if the narrator believes that people can become a better person by making better choices tomorrow. However, the novel has shown that people do have the capacity to change: Zara has asked for help with her letter, for instance. This seems to suggest that people, such as the robber, can change. Indeed, she’s overcome the circumstances of her birth and has defied her mom’s expectations to become a romantic willing to do anything for her kids. In this way, she’s the exact opposite of her own mother.
Themes
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
The girl (the robber) grew up and had daughters of her own, a monkey and a frog. She tried to be a good parent, wife, and person, but she was shocked when she discovered her husband’s infidelity. A few weeks ago, as the elk, the monkey, and the frog walked across the bridge, the girls stopped to lock a padlock to the bridge to symbolize their love for each other and their mom. Their mom was crushed: they must fear that the divorce will cause her to stop loving them.
The robber demonstrates here just how much her daughters motivate her. She wants to make sure that they feel safe and secure, unlike she did when she was a kid. However, the girls’ choice to put a padlock on the bridge does highlight that the bridge symbolizes connection, not disunity.
Themes
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
The next morning, the mom (the robber) found a notebook in her oldest daughter’s backpack. It fell open to a story titled “The Princess with Two Kingdoms.” It’s about a princess who lives in a castle. The princess finds a hole in the floor and discovers a magical world down below, where all the animals are happy. But then she discovers that the magical world exists between two kingdoms, one ruled by a king and the other by a queen, who are fighting horribly. The princess discovers that the king and queen are her parents, and they are fighting over her. Finally, the princess disappears, knowing that without her, there’s nothing to fight over—and everything will be saved. Reading this, the mom’s heart broke.
The robber can tell from her daughter’s story that her daughter is having a hard time working through her parents’ divorce. It also suggests that her daughter is far more aware of the strife between the robber and her husband than the robber thought (or hoped). This causes the robber’s heart to break because, in part, it suggests to the robber that she’s not doing a good enough job of, as she said earlier, “not making a fuss” about the divorce for her kids’ sake. It’s unclear how much better the robber could’ve done, but she still seems to take a lot of the blame on herself.
Themes
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The mom (the robber) got her daughters to school that day. She didn’t fight her ex-husband or her ex-boss or make a fuss, trying to protect her daughters. The day before New Year’s Eve, she left home with a pistol. Now in the present, that same evening, she’s picking up her daughters and tells them she’s had a normal day. As they cross the bridge, she puts a hand on her older daughter’s shoulder and says that the divorce isn’t her fault. That night, as they fall asleep in Estelle’s apartment, the daughter tells her mom that she’s a good mom.
This chapter shows again how the robber went out of her way to try to protect her daughters. She made questionable choices, got caught up, and thanks to Jim, is now able to go home to her daughters and continue being a present, loving parent. By moving in with Estelle, the robber will be able to give her girls the stability she wants to give them. And she gets the confirmation that she’s not doing as poorly as she feared. Her daughter loves and admires her—no matter what the robber has done.
Themes
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
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