A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Man Called Ove

Plot Summary Part 1

When we first meet Ove, he is in a computer store shopping for a computer. He looks at iPads and cannot understand why they don't have keyboards. He gets angry and storms out. The purpose of this scene is to show us that Ove is old fashioned and set in his ways. We are supposed to think it is funny or cute how Ove screams at salesmen demanding a keyboard.

Ove goes on patrol around his neighborhood, making sure that people are obeying the rules governing where they can drive, and where they can park. He writes down the license plates of cars. You get the impression he is a control freak. He even wanted cameras in the garbage disposal area to make sure everyone was recycling properly. He even smells the ground to try to detect if a dog has urinated there. He's acting like Hitler Jr.

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Meanwhile, Ove cancels his telephone line and newspaper subscription. He also keeps pining to put a hook in the ceiling. At first we are not told why he is doing these things, but it quickly becomes apparent that he is planning to kill himself. We are not told why he wants to kill himself, only much later in the book when we learn that he is devastated by his wife, Sonja's, untimely death.

Ove sees someone jogging. He thinks people who jog are smug. He thinks they dress up like "14 year old Romanian gymnasts" just to "shuffle aimlessly around the block for three quarters of an hour". Ove is very judgmental and bitter.

His neighbor Parvaneh (he calls "The Pregnant Foreign Woman") and her semi-cuckolded husband Patrick (he calls "The Lanky One") are parking their car and a trailer and run over Ove's mailbox. Ove is outraged. We are supposed to think he's unreasonable. But in reality anyone would be unhappy to see their mailbox run over. Ove helps them park their car and trailer. This is important because it marks the first time Ove helps Parvaneh and Mr. Cuckold, the first of many times Ove does so which helps distract him from his suicidal tendencies. It is Ove's relationship with Parvaneh (not so much the cuckold) which convinces him more than anything not to kill himself.

Parvaneh gives Ove some chicken to be friendly. Ove is emotionally constipated and doesn't know how to express gratitude. His character has not yet evolved.

Ove makes coffee for his wife and himself and drives her to the shopping center. Only at the end of this chapter do we find out his wife is long dead and he is just playing mind games with himself because he is so sad at her loss. We learn once again what a control freak he is because he insists on keeping the temperature low to save money, and he roams the house to be sure that his dead wife has not raised the temperature on the radiators.

When Ove drives to the shopping center he gets into a road rage battle with a Mercedes. The Mercedes is driving unnaturally slowly so Ove races past it; and when he gets to the center first, he cuts the Mercedes off when it looking for a parking spot. This is another example showing us that Ove is a very angry person.

Ove circles the parking lot over and over to find a parking spot close to the store. He's compulsive.

Ove recalls when he was a kid and worked with his Dad on the trains he found a wallet. Ove decided to turn it in, showing us how honest he is. He's so honest, in fact, that when his father died Ove went to the train people and tried to return the unearned portion of his father's salary. The train people took pity on Ove and persuaded the nutty man to "work off" the remainder of the salary they had paid, paving the way for Ove to get a job with the train people.

We learn when Ove's wife died on a Friday, Ove was back at work on Monday. It's an example of his emotional constipation--he has no way of expressing his feelings.

Ove has prepared to kill himself. It is not enough to merely kill himself, he must do it in an orderly fashion, making sure he's arranged for his funeral, given instructions to a lawyer, paid all his bills, and cancelled his newspaper, and of course done the dishes.

He puts on his best shirt and pants so he will look good when people find his body. He covers the floor with a plastic sheeting so the floor won't get dirty when people come in to find his body. He unlocks his front door so they won't have to break it down. Then he puts a hook in the ceiling, hangs a rope by it, then hangs himself.

Ove dies.

The end.

Ha, ha!

No, he's not dead. This is only his first suicide attempt. There are five more after this one. The rope snaps and he falls to the ground, very much alive.

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