Beartown

Beartown Chapter 37 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kevin’s mom is shaking. She wonders who you save in a sinking ship scenario, and decides you always start with your family. She’s cleaned the house, gotten rid of Kevin’s bedding, and donated the recently laundered clothes to faraway charities. She’s flushed all the marijuana she could find and “vacuumed up all potential blouse-buttons.” Kevin’s mom is waiting for the police when they arrive, insisting that there’s nothing for them to hide, so there’s no reason to delay the search. But she still can’t stop shivering.
Mrs. Erdahl suspects there’s more to the whole story than she’s ready to admit, but she’s a mother, and she feels her first duty is to protect her son—similar to the Anderssons’ thinking, which Backman suggests is flawed and not actually the best way for parents to ensure their kids’ flourishing.
Themes
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Kevin’s dad is sitting in the “command center,” the Erdahls’ kitchen, making phone calls. All the men in the house are upset and ready to fight. William Lyt’s father, Mario, is among the loudest, arguing that the Anderssons could have sought to “resolve this privately,” but instead went to the police right before the final—clearly out of “jealousy.” He claims this is what happens when you give a GM too much influence. Now, Peter thinks he owns the club and is losing his power with Sune’s firing, and so he decided to get his family involved.
Much like the hockey team surrounding Kevin as he emerged from the police station, the older generation is aggressive, seeking both rationalizations and a target to blame. Peter provides an easy one, since his situation with Sune and the club is an open secret. Everyone assumes that hockey and winning are the motivations here—ignoring the idea that Maya could simply be telling the truth.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
When David arrives at the Erdahls’, there are several middle-aged men seemingly standing guard; among them is Tails, who explains that they’re just showing that they stand united with the family. David doesn’t respond. David goes into Kevin’s room and asks him to just look him in the eye and say he didn’t do it. So Kevin tearfully looks him in the eye and insists that he slept with Maya because she asked him to—“You seriously think I could rape someone?” David hugs Kevin and tries to tell himself that if Kevin isn’t protected, others on the team will suffer, too.
David acts like Mrs. Erdahl—protective, wanting to believe the best about Kevin, but not asking too many questions. He rationalizes this in terms of his responsibilities to the team as a whole—without asking what it would end up costing the team if he’s wrong and Kevin is indeed guilty. Kevin’s response also indicates that his very identity protects him; he successfully appeals to David’s biased belief that a star hockey player couldn’t possibly do anything wrong.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
All Mr. Erdahl’s life, he’s striven for perfection as a “survival strategy.” He knows what it’s like to be poor, so he can’t afford to cut himself any slack. Any little crack in the façade of perfection risks bringing it all down. On the ride back from the police station, he roared at Kevin for getting drunk the week before the final, focusing on the cause of the situation rather than the problem itself. And now that survival is at stake, it’s no longer a question of right and wrong.
This is the first time insight is given into Mr. Erdahl’s background. He grew up underprivileged, and, much like Kira Andersson, fears losing his hard-won position. For that reason, Kevin’s reckless behavior is a threat to his survival. It’s not about Maya, but about his own life remaining intact. Again, hockey and economic realities are revealed to be intimately intertwined.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
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Mr. Erdahl comes in and talks to David and Kevin. He explains that it’s a choice between the two of them and Peter Andersson—somebody will have to leave the club. Maya lied, for some reason, and it doesn’t matter why. Now it’s their job to force Peter out of the club before he does the same to them. Hearing this, David remembers seeing Peter standing in the parking lot. And Kevin remembers that somebody needs to talk to Amat about what he saw.
Mr. Erdahl breaks the whole situation down into a neat “us and them” scenario. David remembers Peter’s presence at the arrest and interprets it in a way that’s favorable to this scenario—making him the enemy. Here it becomes clear that anyone can become a casualty of hockey culture’s rigid focus on winning and loyalty.
Themes
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon