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När man skjuter arbetare by Kerstin Thorvall

”När man skjuter arbetare”, When workers are being shot, is based on the lives of Kerstin Thorvall's mother. In 1920's, Hilma, a young teacher from the north of Sweden meets Sigfrid, a charismatic, charming schoolmaster. She falls in love with this vivid character with his strange manner completely foreign to people from Norrland. Eventually, Hilma realizes that their different status and origin doesn't entirely explain his behavior. No one tells Hilma that Sigfrid is in fact bipolar and their wedding night is a catastrophe without proportions.

The story is dripping with injustice and prejudices. There was a horrible lack of acceptance of people being or thinking outside of the norms and bipolar persons didn't get a proper treatment for their condition and weren't allowed to marry and have children. Hence, the responsibility fell upon the two victims of the story. To make the marriage work.

The prejudiced middle class and the relentless, envious ”jante”-law - that still lingers on today, despite Sweden being one of the richest countries in the world - within the working class made it difficult for the main characters. Gossip seems to have been the main way of entertainment during coffee breaks. Religion was eminent and there seems to have been a kind of puritanism stronghold in the north. This is an interesting time since nowadays Sweden is a secularized country.

The Swedish welfare had yet to arrive. The feudal society and people with socialist sympathies, like Sigfrid, had difficulties to introduce their ideology. The title of the novel refers to workers that were shot during a demonstration in connection with a strike in 1931 - a tragic event later referred to as "Ådalen 31". Several people were killed.

"När man skjuter arbetare" is a one of a kind history lesson about the destinies of ordinary people in a country very different from today that needs to be remembered.

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