Anxious People

Anxious People

by

Fredrik Backman

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Roger Character Analysis

Roger is a retired engineer who, along with his wife Anna-Lena, plans to buy the apartment as an investment property. Though Roger comes off as an entitled person, the novel reveals he’s actually very noble and extremely anxious about being good enough for Anna-Lena. Throughout his life, Roger consistently put his career on hold as Anna-Lena was promoted—and now, after being forced into retirement, he runs the show to try and prove that he’s capable and needed. To help him in this regard, Anna-Lena begins hiring Lennart, a professional interrupter, to disrupt apartment viewings; this allows Roger to negotiate better deals on the apartments. But when Roger discovers what Anna-Lena has been doing, he feels impotent and useless. According to Anna-Lena, these feelings are also compounded by the fact that Roger and Anna-Lena’s children don’t want to have kids of their own, and Roger’s life would have meaning again if he could be a grandfather. Though Roger isn’t a very verbal man, he does love Anna-Lena. While the couple isn’t yet ready to speak about their marital problems by the end of the novel, Roger invites Anna-Lena to see a movie (rather than the documentaries he usually prefers), which makes both of them feel loved and supported.

Roger Quotes in Anxious People

The Anxious People quotes below are all either spoken by Roger or refer to Roger. 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 1  Quotes

Sometimes it hurts, it really hurts, for no other reason than the fact that our skin doesn’t feel like it’s ours. Sometimes we panic, because the bills need paying and we have to be grown-up and we don’t know how, because it’s so horribly, desperately easy to fail at being grown-up.

Because everyone loves someone, and anyone who loves someone has had those desperate nights where we lie awake trying to figure out how we can afford to carry on being human beings. Sometimes that makes us do things that seem ridiculous in hindsight, but which felt like the only way out at the time.

One single really bad idea. That’s all it takes.

Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

When you’ve been together for a very long time, it’s the little things that matter. In a long marriage you don’t need words to have a row, but you don’t need words to say “I love you,” either. Once when they were at IKEA, very recently, Roger had suggested when they were having lunch in the cafeteria that they each have a piece of cake. Because he understood that it was an important day for Anna-Lena, and because it was important to her it was important to him as well. Because that’s how he loves her.

Related Characters: Anna-Lena, Roger
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

“Do you mean to say that…but…what about all my negotiations with the Realtor? All my tactics?”

Anna-Lena couldn’t meet his gaze.

“You get so upset when you lose a bid. I just wanted you to…win.”

She wasn’t telling the whole truth. That she had become the sort of person who just wanted a home. That she wanted to stop now. That she’d like to go to the movies occasionally and see something made-up instead of yet another documentary on television. That she didn’t want to be a shark. She was worried that the betrayal would be too much for Roger.

Related Characters: Roger (speaker), Anna-Lena (speaker), Lennart/The Rabbit
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

“Stockholm” is, after all, an expression more than it is a place, both for men like Roger and for most of the rest of us, just a symbolic word to denote all the irritating people who get in the way of our happiness. People who think they’re better than us. Bankers who say no when we apply for a loan, psychologists who ask questions when we only want sleeping pills, old men who steal the apartments we want to renovate, rabbits who steal our wives. Everyone who doesn’t see us, doesn’t understand us, doesn’t care about us.

Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
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 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 65 Quotes

Because it wasn’t Lennart who opened the door when Jim showed up with the pizzas. It was the bank robber, the real bank robber. Both Roger and Lennart had insisted on being allowed to wear the ski mask, but after a long pause she had said no. She had looked at them, her voice gentle with appreciation, and then given them a determined nod.

“Obviously I can’t set a good example to my daughters and teach them not to do idiotic things now. But I might at least be able to show them how you take responsibility for your actions.”

Page Number: 291
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:
Chapter 67 Quotes

“You’re a good police officer, son,” Jim will say, looking down at the ground. He’ll want to add but an even better person, but won’t be able to bring himself to say it.

“You’re not always such a damn good police officer, Dad,” Jack will grin up at the clouds. He’ll want to add but I’ve learned everything else from you, but the words won’t quite come out.

They’ll go home. Watch television. Have a beer together.

That’s enough.

Page Number: 312
Explanation and Analysis:
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Anxious People PDF

Roger Character Timeline in Anxious People

The timeline below shows where the character Roger appears in Anxious People. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 22
The Modern World Theme Icon
...to be a robbery. So the robber feels insulted when the woman tells her husband, Roger, to get his money out. The bank robber then catches sight of the reflection in... (full context)
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. Shocked, Ro... (full context)
Chapter 29
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...finally mentions that the robber entered the apartment, but then says Jack should speak to Roger, who has a better memory. Jack asks if Roger and Anna-Lena didn’t intend to settle... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
Anna-Lena says that she and Roger like sharing projects, and Roger is more sensitive than he looks. But he thinks she’s... (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 33
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...Jim asks about Ro and Julia. Estelle says they were arguing, and it was cute; Roger and Anna-Lena were arguing too, but it wasn’t cute. Roger and Anna-Lena were arguing about... (full context)
Chapter 34
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...tells Zara to stop being mean. Julia tells everyone to shut up, even Zara. Meanwhile, Roger helps Anna-Lena up. He begins knocking on the walls. Anna-Lena loves it when he does... (full context)
Chapter 35
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
Jack is interviewing Roger at the police station. After arguing about Roger’s bleeding nose and why the police have... (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 37
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Back in his interview with Roger, Jack tries to get the conversation back on track. But Roger says that people like... (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
...challenged old fart of a husband” yelled at her. Ro asks if they’re talking about Roger, or if Julia is actually mad at her. Julia stalks off toward the closet. Ro... (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 is shocked... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
...says she knows nothing about kids, can’t make decisions, and is scared all the time. Roger knows exactly what she means. He feels useless and impotent since finding out about the... (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
...best if they give themselves up. Ro suggests the police would shoot the robber, and Roger agrees. Suddenly determined, the robber says they’re a “failure and an idiot” and walks toward... (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
...between a chaise lounge and a divan. Julia says that they all—Estelle, Zara, Lennart, Anna-Lena, Roger, Ro, and herself—were in the apartment when they ate pizza. The real estate agent was... (full context)
Chapter 53
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...so she says it herself: he doesn’t care about the apartment’s seller or Anna-Lena or Roger, and the housing market is a construct, which means he doesn’t have any responsibility. And... (full context)
Mental Health and Connection Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
...laughing, and he tells Zara that she wins. Quietly, she points out that Anna-Lena and Roger are just postponing a divorce, and this must make Lennart happy because then they’ll have... (full context)
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
The Modern World Theme Icon
...Lennart says that Anna-Lena is one of his favorite clients. She just wants to make Roger feel needed, and everyone assumes that she’s oppressed and sacrificial. But she used to be... (full context)
Chapter 54
Marriage, Conflict, and Communication Theme Icon
Assumptions  Theme Icon
...the bottle and passes it to Anna-Lena. Anna-Lena explains to Estelle that both Ro and Roger are idiots. (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 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
...help set the table and Zara gives Julia her lighter without Julia having to ask. Roger gruffly asks if Julia knows how to light a fire. Julia is ready to snarl... (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
...in the elevator—she and Ro are going to buy the other empty apartment. This makes Roger laugh, and hearing Roger laugh makes Anna-Lena so happy that she has to sit down. (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)
Chapter 68
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)