Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Julia Character Analysis

Julia is Ro’s wife and one of the prospective buyers of the apartment. She’s heavily pregnant and is constantly fighting with Ro. Some of this has to do with the fact that Julia’s pregnancy has made her belligerent and combative, but she reveals to Anna-Lena and Estelle that she’s also having second thoughts about her relationship with Ro. However, the novel implies that many of Julia’s concerns really stem from her anxiety about becoming a parent and how parenthood will affect her relationship with Ro—as Julia notes at several points, she and Ro are good at fighting, but they’re even better at making up after a fight. She also says explicitly that she loves “being boring” with Ro. Though Julia begins the novel by making snap judgments about people, specifically about Anna-Lena and Roger, hearing their stories teaches her to be less judgmental. She also becomes one of the loudest advocates for helping the robber. Ultimately, Julia and Ro decide to buy the apartment across the landing from Estelle’s, and they and their son remain friends with Estelle, the robber, and the robber’s daughters.

Julia Quotes in Anxious People

The Anxious People quotes below are all either spoken by Julia or refer to Julia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
).
Chapter 38 Quotes

“Since [Julia] got pregnant everything’s become so serious, because parents are always serious and I suppose we’re trying to fit in. Sometimes I don’t think I’m ready for the responsibility—I mean, I think my phone is asking too much of me when it wants me to install an update, and I find myself yelling: ‘You’re suffocating me.’ You can’t shout that at a child. And children have to be updated all the time, because they can kill themselves just crossing the street or eating a peanut! I’ve mislaid my phone three times already today, I don’t know if I’m ready for a human being.”

Related Characters: Ro (speaker), Julia, Roger, The Bank Robber
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 40 Quotes

“There were so many cars there that it took the younger man twenty minutes to get to the part of the garage where we were parked. Roger refused to move the car until he got there. […] [Roger] replied that it didn’t mean he’d change his mind about the economy or fuel taxes or Stockholmers. But then he said that he realized that in the young man’s eyes, Roger must look just like that politician on television […] And Roger didn’t want the man with the beard to think that meant they were all exactly the same.”

Related Characters: Anna-Lena (speaker), Roger, Julia
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

“I just wish Roger could feel important again.”

Julia didn’t seem to follow the logic.

“Grandchildren would make him feel important?”

Anna-Lena smiled weakly.

“Have you ever held a three-year-old by the hand on the way home from preschool?”

“No.”

“You’re never more important than you are then.”

Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 56 Quotes

“What did you used to do?” the young woman asked.

Anna-Lena filled her lungs, simultaneously hesitant and proud.

“I was an analyst for an industrial company. Well, I suppose I was the senior analyst, really, but I did my best not to be.”

“Senior analyst?” Julia repeated, instantly ashamed of how that sounded.

Anna-Lena saw the surprise in her eyes, but she was used to it and didn’t take offense.

Related Characters: Julia (speaker), Anna-Lena (speaker), Roger, Estelle
Page Number: 251
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 58 Quotes

“Ro’s going to be a brilliant mom. She can make any child laugh, just like my mom, because their sense of humor hasn’t developed at all since they were nine.”

“You’re going to be a brilliant mom, too,” Estelle assured her.

[…]

“I don’t know. Everything feels such a big deal, and other parents all seem so…funny the whole time. […] I don’t actually like all children. I thought that would change, but I meet my friends’ children now and I still think they’re annoying and have a lousy sense of humor.”

[…]

“You don’t have to like all children. Just one. And children don’t need the world’s best parents, just their own parents. To be perfectly honest with you, what they need most of the time is a chauffeur.”

Related Characters: Julia (speaker), Estelle (speaker), Anna-Lena (speaker), Ro, Julia’s Mom
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

“They fled across the mountains, in the middle of winter, and the children each had to carry a sheet, and if they heard the sound of helicopters they were supposed to lie down in the snow with the sheet over them, so they couldn’t be seen. And their parents would run in different directions, so that if the men in the helicopter started firing, they’d fire at the moving targets. And not at…and I didn’t know what to…”

[…] [Ro’s] parents had taught her during their flight through the mountains that humor is the soul’s last line of defense, and as long as we’re laughing we’re alive, so bad puns and fart jokes were their way of expressing their defiance against despair.

Related Characters: Julia (speaker), Ro, Anna-Lena, Estelle
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 61 Quotes

“Yes, let’s have something to eat. This has all turned out to be rather pleasant, hasn’t it, getting to know each other like this? And that’s all thanks to you!” Estelle beamed.

“I’m sure the police won’t shoot you. Not much, anyway,” Anna-Lena said comfortingly.

“Why don’t we all go outside with you? They won’t fire if we all leave at the same time!” Julia insisted.

“There must be a way out, if it’s possible to sneak into a viewing, then it must be possible to sneak out,” Lennart pointed out.

“Let’s all sit down and make a plan!” Roger demanded.

Related Characters: Estelle (speaker), Anna-Lena (speaker), Julia (speaker), Lennart/The Rabbit (speaker), Roger (speaker), The Bank Robber
Page Number: 277
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 66 Quotes

“Sometimes I think that when you live together for a very long time, and have children together, life is a bit like climbing trees. Up and down, up and down, you try to cope with everything, be good, you climb and climb and climb, and you hardly ever see each other along the way. You don’t notice that when you’re young, but everything changes when you have children, and sometimes it feels like you hardly ever see the person you married anymore. You’re parents and teammates, first and foremost, and being married slips down the list of priorities. But you…well, you keep climbing trees, and see each other along the way.”

Related Characters: Anna-Lena (speaker), The Bank Robber, Roger, Julia, Ro, Lennart/The Rabbit, Estelle
Page Number: 300-301
Explanation and Analysis:

“This isn’t just an apartment, it’s my home, I don’t want to hand it over to someone who’s just going to be passing through, to make money from it. I want someone who’s going to love living here, like I have. Maybe that’s hard for a young person to understand.”

That wasn’t true. There wasn’t a single person in the apartment who didn’t understand perfectly.

Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:
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Anxious People PDF

Julia Character Timeline in Anxious People

The timeline below shows where the character Julia appears in Anxious People. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 28
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...she tries to decide if she'd like to jump. Then, she hears the other couple, Julia and Ro. Julia is pregnant. Ro walks around with her phone in the air, complaining... (full context)
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...his tape measure, and he and Anna-Lena tell her absolutely not. Shocked, Ro returns to Julia and says she hates this apartment. Just as Zara walks in from the balcony, Julia... (full context)
Chapter 30
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...asks everyone to lie down so they can think, but everyone refuses. Finally noticing that Julia is pregnant, the robber says she can go. Roger suggests the robber let everyone go,... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Julia shouts that she’s not letting Roger put in an offer on the apartment while the... (full context)
Chapter 31
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...Stockholm.” She winks, but Jim doesn’t know what she means. Estelle says she’s referring to Julia and Ro, who are having a baby together even though they’re both from Stockholm. Jim... (full context)
Chapter 32
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...Photos circulate of the “masked gunman” following this. The robber runs back inside to find Julia getting up; Julia snaps that she has to use the bathroom. Ro pats the robber’s... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...if someone slips a peanut through the mail slot and the baby chokes on it. Julia returns and rolls her eyes. She says the bathroom is occupied. The robber tugs at... (full context)
Chapter 33
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...she’s sure Stockholm is pleasant, and Knut isn’t prejudiced, either. Jim asks about Ro and Julia. Estelle says they were arguing, and it was cute; Roger and Anna-Lena were arguing too,... (full context)
Chapter 34
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...if the bank robber’s parents were siblings and Ro tells Zara to stop being mean. Julia tells everyone to shut up, even Zara. Meanwhile, Roger helps Anna-Lena up. He begins knocking... (full context)
Chapter 36
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Julia tells the bank robber to give her the pistol: she needs to shoot the lock... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World 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... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 38
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
When she comes out of the bathroom, Julia angrily asks Ro if she really let Anna-Lena go off on her own after her... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Ro apologizes for Julia calling Roger “emotionally challenged” and says that Roger and Anna-Lena aren’t headed for divorce. Roger... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...feels useless and impotent since finding out about the rabbit. Quietly, he says Ro and Julia should buy the apartment, which is in fine shape except for the loose baseboards. Ro... (full context)
Chapter 40
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Back in the hostage drama, Julia knocks on the closet door, where Anna-Lena is hiding and lets herself in. Julia suggests... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Returning to her parking lot story, Anna-Lena says Julia doesn’t understand. On the news that morning, a politician from Roger’s party had said they... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Julia and Anna-Lena smile at each other and all they have in common. Anna-Lena says she... (full context)
Chapter 43
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...Ro asks for a kebab pizza and then knocks on the closet door to get Julia’s order. Julia asks for Hawaiian, but without pineapple or ham. She then opens the closet... (full context)
Chapter 45
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
In Jack’s witness interview with Julia and Ro, the women insist on doing their interview together. Julia and Ro bicker with... (full context)
Chapter 54
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 56
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...She misses making Knut laugh so hard he spit his breakfast out, and she tells Julia and Anna-Lena that Knut is dead. But he always dropped her close to their destinations... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Anna-Lena says that “working life” goes so fast, and when Julia asks, she says she was a senior analyst for an industrial company. Julia’s surprised look... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...again and pulls out cigarettes. Anna-Lena scoffs about what kind of people live here, and Julia patiently explains that she doesn’t smoke. Estelle says you used to just cut down when... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Julia says it’s not Estelle’s fault that the man jumped, but Anna-Lena says it wasn’t the... (full context)
Chapter 58
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Julia immediately regrets mentioning her fiancée, so she tells Estelle and Anna-Lena to forget it. But... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
When Estelle asks about Julia’s parents, Julia says that Julia’s mom cleaned offices and her dad “hit women.” Julia and... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Remembering Julia’s mom’s reaction when Julia shared that she was pregnant, Julia says that Ro will be... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Estelle says that Julia will be a great mom—and that she’s a great wife. Julia says she nags Ro... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...Knut never knew about. Anna-Lena is convinced this is all getting out of hand, but Julia wants to know what happened. Estelle says Knut wasn’t a reader, but she was. The... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...pose as the agent and walk out with the rest of the hostages. Just as Julia gets up to go tell Ro the plan, Lennart knocks on the door and explains... (full context)
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...she’s pretty sure there’s an air vent—but when she stops coughing, someone continues to cough. Julia drags the ladder to the back of the closet and Lennart starts to climb up.... (full context)
Chapter 61
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...the living room floor. He explains it’s an optional add-on for this service. Anna-Lena and Julia ask him to put pants on. (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Annoyed, Julia shuts the balcony door and decides to light a fire in the fireplace while they... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Though Roger insists the damper is open, the fire smokes until Julia opens the damper. She and Roger start laughing. They both say the other’s wife is... (full context)
Chapter 62
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
...get the door, but Roger and Ro protest. Roger offers to get the door and Julia says this is a great idea: the police will assume a man tried to rob... (full context)
Chapter 64
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...shown out the back of the police station. On the stairs, Zara, Lennart, Anna-Lena, Roger, Julia, Ro, and the real estate agent stare at one other. Roger asks what the police... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...few minutes later, but she’s clearly anxious and lonely. Estelle asks if she’s okay, and Julia asks if she was afraid. Ro invites London to get a coffee. London says she... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Julia hugs her fellow hostages, and Estelle says she’d like to give Julia a book. Julia... (full context)
Chapter 66
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Julia spots Anna-Lena standing alone and gets up to tell her that hiring Lennart to boost... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...to the real estate agent. But the agent is arguing with Roger about how much Julia and Ro should pay for the apartment. Finally, the agent snaps that she can go... (full context)
Chapter 68
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...back steps of the police station, Estelle hugs everyone but Zara (who blocks her attempt). Julia invites Estelle to have coffee with them, but Estelle refuses. She tells the agent she... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
...will lose her dad. Ro’s mom will find a reason to live in another man: Julia and Ro’s son. Ro and Julia will remain quirky, and the monkey and the frog... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...family watches fireworks from the balcony every New Year’s Eve until, finally, Estelle dies. Ro, Julia, and their son attend her funeral, and as teens, the monkey and the frog smoke... (full context)