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A man called Ove > Question #2: The Cat

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

In an interview, Backman reveals that in the first draft of A Man Called Ove, the cat didn’t appear until chapter 14, and that it was his editor who insisted that the cat appear earlier. What role do you feel the cat played in the novel? Was it important to the narrative, and if so, why?


message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily Burns (emilymelissabee) | 124 comments Mod
Ove's treatment of the cat in many instances made me cringe - oh, that poor cat! But the cat was sort of this pivotal character, in a way, because though the story began with Ove having no anchor in the world, the cat became one of those anchors.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I agree that the cat was an anchor for Ove - it gave him something to care for and a reason to live. The cat also brought the neighbours together when it was discovered in the snowbank. Parvaneh knows instinctively that Ove needs something to care for. She says that her girls are allergic to cats, but I don't believe that for a minute. The cat also adds a great deal of humour to the novel by behaving in ways that no cat ever would - going on outings in the car, for example.

Of course, we also get to learn the tender story of Ernest, the cat that Sonja loved so dearly. When Ernest died, Sonja told Ove that he would have to "love [her] twice as much now." Ove said that he would. "Even though he knew it wasn't possible for him to love her any more than he already did." (p. 148). By hearing this story, we come to understand Ove better, and I certainly started to love him.

The title of chapter 19 is telling: "A man called Ove and a cat that was broken when he came." That broken cat came to heal the broken man.


message 4: by Allison (last edited Dec 08, 2015 10:40AM) (new)

Allison | 396 comments I agree with both of these comments: my interpretation is pretty similar. I felt that the cat was a link for Ove to his wife...taking it in and caring for it was something Sonja would have done, and as such helped Ove to become more empathetic. He began to become more like Sonja in this respect. The developing companionship between man and feline could only have a softening effect in his life, give him purpose and ultimately make it easier for him to let others in. I almost had the sense that the cat was some kind of embodiment of Sonja (or perhaps, sent by Sonja, or through some divine intervention...), to help him through his grief.


message 5: by Rocio (new)

Rocio (rociofarrell) | 64 comments i also agree with all the comments about the cat, it gave Ove another very practical reason to postpone his dead. I was amused by the way he would worry about what the cat would think, or not wanting to disturb or wake the cat up with the shot of the riffle. I find that Ove was always checking his actions with Sonja, what she would have thought in every situation, that is why he had to accept the cat. However I think that the role of the cat, although important is not fundamental so even if it would have been introduced later in the book In my opinion would have not changed the novel that much.


message 6: by Rocio (new)

Rocio (rociofarrell) | 64 comments Susan wrote: "I agree that the cat was an anchor for Ove - it gave him something to care for and a reason to live. The cat also brought the neighbours together when it was discovered in the snowbank. Parvaneh kn..."

I loved that part Susan when Ove said that he lied for the second time since it was impossible to love her more. How sweet that can be! Also it let us see into Sonjia. I wondered how she would have been able to live with Ove, but we see from different parts of the narrative that Sonjia was such a special character.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Rocio wrote: "Susan wrote: "I agree that the cat was an anchor for Ove - it gave him something to care for and a reason to live. The cat also brought the neighbours together when it was discovered in the snowban..."
I agree, Rocio, about how sweet that statement was. If you haven't finished the book yet, you will have lots of opportunities to see how Sonja was able to live with Ove. She was a special person and a lesson for all of us about acceptance and not trying to change the people we love.


message 8: by Susan (last edited Dec 09, 2015 06:30AM) (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Allison wrote: "I agree with both of these comments: my interpretation is pretty similar. I felt that the cat was a link for Ove to his wife...taking it in and caring for it was something Sonja would have done, an..."
I agree, Allison. I also wondered about Sonja sending the cat to Ove because he needed something to live and care for. If only anything as wonderful as that could really happen... Sometimes believing things like that is what carries us through our grief, and that makes it alright with me.


message 9: by Basia (new)

Basia | 5 comments I loved the cat!
However, I had very mixed feelings about it… On one side, the cat with all its symbolism (an anchor) and humor became a very important element in the book and I am not surprised the editor insisted on introducing it at the beginning. On the other side, the cat was a little bit too much… too human- like, too intelligent, too sarcastic. In some ways the cat worked as an anchor for me because it prevented me from forgetting that this was just a novel… Do you understand what I am saying?


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan | 130 comments I too thought the cat was a key "character" in the novel - I can understand why the editor encouraged it be brought forward in the narrative. For me, the cat was another lens through which to see Ove and discover his underlying code of ethics. Regardless of how annoyed he was, he really couldn't let the cat die once someone noticed it was frozen. It was the same with the fellow who was thrown out of his home for coming out. (Sorry forget his name and the book has been returned to the library.) I too felt that as the book went on, Sonja was personified through the cat. And I also thought it was hilarious that Ove considered how to die without disturbing the cat. My opinion differs from Rocio's (above) - I think the cat is critical to the author's ability to tell the story.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 130 comments Oakville wrote: "In an interview, Backman reveals that in the first draft of A Man Called Ove, the cat didn’t appear until chapter 14, and that it was his editor who insisted that the cat appear earlier. What role ..."

Thanks for the link to the interview ... I love to hear the story behind the story. I have put My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologies in my Want to Read pile


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Basia wrote: "I loved the cat!
However, I had very mixed feelings about it… On one side, the cat with all its symbolism (an anchor) and humor became a very important element in the book and I am not surprised t..."


I understand exactly what you're saying, Basia! You are so right that the cat was at times very un-catlike, and it did seem fictitious.You obviously wanted very much to believe that Ove was real. I did too. After I finished the book, I felt like I knew him well. He is one of those fictional characters that I will carry with me for a long time.


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I too thought the cat was a key "character" in the novel - I can understand why the editor encouraged it be brought forward in the narrative. For me, the cat was another lens through which to see O..."
Susan, the fellow who came out was Mirsad. I just re-read chapter 32, in which Ove takes in Mirsad, and have goosebumps again. Ove "wasn't running a damned hotel," but Sonja liked hotels.


message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan | 130 comments Susan wrote: "Susan wrote: "I too thought the cat was a key "character" in the novel - I can understand why the editor encouraged it be brought forward in the narrative. For me, the cat was another lens through ..."

Thanks. I thought that was such an interesting side story ... especially in a seemingly permissive society like Sweden (but of course he wasn't from a permissive culture).


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