Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Ro is Julia’s wife and one of the people viewing the apartment for sale. Though Ro is nonwhite and was born outside of Sweden, her birthplace is never specified. A very anxious person, Ro rejects the apartment—and has rejected almost two dozen prior to this one. This causes strife between Ro and Julia, but Ro is unwilling to tell Julia the truth: she’s afraid she’s not a good enough partner, and she’s also already grieving her dad, who has dementia and can no longer talk her through making such big decisions. She’s also anxious because she and Julia are expecting a baby in the next few weeks, and she’s baffled by how serious Julia has become about parenthood and afraid that she doesn’t know enough to be a good parent. Julia, however, insists that Ro is going to be a fantastic parent, mostly because Ro has the sense of humor of a nine-year-old. This is because as a child, Ro and her family fled a warzone and had to evade snipers in helicopters—and Ro’s entire family turned to humor to process that trauma. Ultimately, Ro and Julia buy the apartment across the hallway and have a son.

Ro Quotes in Anxious People

The Anxious People quotes below are all either spoken by Ro or refer to Ro. 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

“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 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 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:
Get the entire Anxious People LitChart as a printable PDF.
Anxious People PDF

Ro Character Timeline in Anxious People

The timeline below shows where the character Ro 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
Assumptions  Theme Icon
The older couple, Anna-Lena and Roger, are recently retired. They’re the people who write detailed one-star reviews of household gadgets, whether... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
From the balcony, Zara can hear Anna-Lena and Roger. She’s staring at the bridge, crying, and feeling nauseous as she tries to decide if... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Anna-Lena is critiquing the IKEA pillows on the couch. Anna-Lena and Roger have been to every IKEA in Sweden. In IKEA, she knows Roger loves her—recently, he... (full context)
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Ro asks Roger to borrow his tape measure, and he and Anna-Lena tell her absolutely not.... (full context)
Chapter 30
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Back in the apartment, during the not-robbery, Roger says he doesn’t have any money. Anna-Lena thinks that nobody ever understands Roger, so she... (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 rest of them leave. Ro anxiously... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...“Smart,” the robber shouts that they didn’t know, and they just need time to think. Roger shouts that he wants information. (full context)
Chapter 31
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...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 asks if... (full context)
Chapter 32
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...inside to find Julia getting up; Julia snaps that she has to use the bathroom. Ro pats the robber’s leg and says that Julia is just sensitive because she’s pregnant. Julia... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Zara pulls out her phone so they can call the police and be done, but Ro says there’s no signal. Ro muses that maybe that’s okay; kids who grow up without... (full context)
Chapter 33
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...Estelle says 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... (full context)
Chapter 34
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...someone is in the bathroom. Zara asks 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,... (full context)
Chapter 36
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...Estelle means when she says “Stockholmer.” He asks Anna-Lena to tell them to not shoot. Roger stares at Anna-Lena, who’s sobbing. She says this is Lennart, and it’s not what Roger... (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... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Roger has never been a man of many words, but he loves Anna-Lena. He knows her... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...her and Lennart have been going on for a year, and it’s all been for Roger’s sake. Lennart tells Roger that he’s a professional interrupter. Handing Roger a business card, he... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Roger paces, kicks the baseboards, and then rushes Lennart and knocks him to the ground. Julia... (full context)
Chapter 38
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Returning to the hostage drama, Roger stands in the hallway, one hand on the door and the other on his bleeding... (full context)
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 “emotionally challenged old... (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... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
After a minute, Ro says she doesn’t want to buy this apartment until her dad can look at it,... (full context)
Chapter 40
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...in common. Anna-Lena likes this idea; she hasn’t had anything in common with anyone but Roger for a while. They discuss how Julia is doing and how the robber seems scared,... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...lot story, Anna-Lena says Julia doesn’t understand. On the news that morning, a politician from Roger’s party had said they should stop helping immigrants. Then, later that day, the young man... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Anna-Lena says she never should’ve deceived Roger, but she just wanted him to feel good about himself. All she wants is a... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
...Anna-Lena smile at each other and all they have in common. Anna-Lena says she and Roger have two kids who don’t want to have children of their own. Anna-Lena says that... (full context)
Chapter 41
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Estelle approaches Roger, the robber, and Ro in the hallway and asks if she can make them something... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...said they’d take the robber’s daughters away. It’s probably best if they give themselves up. Ro suggests the police would shoot the robber, and Roger agrees. Suddenly determined, the robber says... (full context)
Chapter 43
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
In the hostage drama, Roger goes onto the balcony and shouts at the police that they need supplies. Jim asks... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Turning to Zara, Roger asks what she wants. Zara has never had pizza before and has very specific tastes,... (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 each other... (full context)
Chapter 54
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 56
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...full of surprises. Then, suddenly sad, Anna-Lena says that people assume she’s lived life in Roger’s shadow, but he turned down promotions since her job was going so well. It was... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...the man jumped, but Anna-Lena says it wasn’t the bridge’s fault, either. She explains that Roger found the incident upsetting, because he was an engineer who built bridges. News coverage of... (full context)
Chapter 58
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
...wanted to be bored. So, she came home from Australia a week early and kissed Ro. Giggling, Julia says that she’s a florist and met Ro when Ro came into her... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...mom never let her hate her dad. And then, when Julia told her mom about Ro, Julia realized Ro was the real thing. So, while her fiancée was in Australia, Ro... (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 a great mom. She has a nine-year-old’s sense of humor and can make... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...Julia will be a great mom—and that she’s a great wife. Julia says she nags Ro so much, but Ro does still make her laugh. Smiling and fumbling over her words,... (full context)
Chapter 61
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Roger is right: the two apartments on the top floor used to be one, and it... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...just as Zara comes in from the balcony. To her surprise, she doesn’t hate him. Roger turns to the real estate agent and asks where she’s been. She explains that she... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...She’s sobbing by now. Julia, Anna-Lena, and Estelle suggest that they can fix this, and Ro and Estelle insist they wait for the pizzas. Estelle leads the robber away to help... (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... (full context)
Chapter 62
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
The robber says she’ll get the door, but Roger and Ro protest. Roger offers to get the door and Julia says this is a... (full context)
Chapter 64
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...are 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... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...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 doesn’t like coffee, but Ro says... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...Julia a book. Julia says that maybe they can exchange books in the elevator—she and Ro are going to buy the other empty apartment. This makes Roger laugh, and hearing Roger... (full context)
Chapter 66
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
When the bank robber goes back inside the apartment, almost everyone is laughing (except for Roger, who’s arguing with the real estate agent about the incorrect apartment plans). Zara and Lennart... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
...spots Anna-Lena standing alone and gets up to tell her that hiring Lennart to boost Roger’s confidence was weird but very romantic. Anna-Lena says Roger should’ve had a chance to get... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...tries to discreetly signal 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... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
The bank robber tries to argue—but before she can leave, Jim knocks on the door. Roger grouses that with a policeman outside, the robber can’t sneak over. Zara suggests they try... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Earlier, Ro found the special phone in a pizza box, put it on the table, and then... (full context)
Chapter 68
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...sale are pretty romantic. Estelle is thrilled: she’s going to be neighbors with Julia and Ro, and she and Julia will swap books. She already knows what to give Julia first. (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
In the following weeks and months, Ro will lose her dad. Ro’s mom will find a reason to live in another man:... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
...Lennart he can sit in the front. Anna-Lena is still sitting on the steps, and Roger sits down next to her. She wants to apologize, but it’s hard. Instead, she suggests... (full context)
Parenting and Fear Theme Icon
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...This 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... (full context)