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A man called Ove > Question #3: Bit by Bit...

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

As readers, we get to know Ove slowly, with his past only being revealed piece by piece. What surprised you about Ove’s past? Why do you think the author revealed Ove’s past the way that he did?


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Almost everything about Ove surprised me, just as it would surprise anyone to find out the back-story of a curmudgeon. I don't want to give too much away so I will hide this. The main things that surprised me were (view spoiler). I guess everything surprised me! Maybe the author wanted to tell us that we have to be patient with people like Ove, and peel back their layers slowly.


message 3: by Emily (new)

Emily Burns (emilymelissabee) | 124 comments Mod
I agree with you, Susan - in addition to those things, my most memorable surprise was the first: (view spoiler)

I think that Backman did a really good job of mirroring the ways in which we get to know everyone in our worlds - at first, from small and seemingly pointless interactions. Peeling back the layers takes time, and trust, and my impression was that Backman was trying to build that trust by slowly revealing Ove's depths as they came up.


message 4: by Allison (new)

Allison | 396 comments I liked the slow reveal here too...I felt that this kind of plodding progression of getting to know Ove was entirely appropriate as it paralleled Parvaneh's getting to know him at the very same time. And as Emily pointed out, this is how we typically come to know others in the real world.

I also thought it interesting that Parvaneh and her family were so optimistic and good-natured, that they obviously gave Ove the benefit of the doubt (perhaps because they didn't want to be feuding with a neighbor)...but they seemed to be very accepting and open-minded with respect to others. Did Ove remind them of someone?

I agree also with Susan...about the author hoping to nurture patience within us when it comes to someone like Ove. First impressions that are negative often have a staying quality that can be very difficult to alter ...it can take time to sway such an opinion.

I think the use of time here also gives Ove the chance to find purpose again and love. I was so touched that this family latched on to him.


message 5: by Edward (new)

Edward Hughes (guin36) | 5 comments I was surprised by the lessons his father taught Ove either directly or indirectly. His father taught him one very straight northerly heading on his moral compass.

The introduction of characters allows us all to form opinions without information. How quickly we all stereotype based on incomplete information! This makes the onion peeling impact greater as our prior assumptions are ripped apart.


message 6: by Allison (new)

Allison | 396 comments Edward wrote: "I was surprised by the lessons his father taught Ove either directly or indirectly. His father taught him one very straight northerly heading on his moral compass.

The introduction of characters ..."


Agreed, Edward. I think this book very much encourages us as readers/observers to be more open-minded about and receptive towards others.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 130 comments Late to this and subsequent answers to the questions posed about Ove ... Christmas got in the way of book club. I was surprised to learn that Ove was unable to get a lot of schooling - going to work where his father had worked before. Perhaps a preconception of the high standards of education in Sweden. I was less surprised by the revelation that Sonja was in a wheelchair .. there was a premonition about scuff marks on the floor which I wondered about. As mentioned above, I thought this slow reveal was very effective in building empathy and understanding for Ove and his very strong sense of duty and morality. It made it all the more interesting when Parvanah broke down the wall, brick by brick.


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Late to this and subsequent answers to the questions posed about Ove ... Christmas got in the way of book club. I was surprised to learn that Ove was unable to get a lot of schooling - going to wor..."
Thanks for responding, Susan; we understand if Christmas got in the way of your reading. I agree with your citing of premonitions - I found quite a few of them upon second reading. I like your analogy of Parvaneh breaking down Ove's brick wall. I'm sure at times that wall seemed insurmountable, but she didn't give up.


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