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Themes

In The Girl Who Played With Fire, family isn't all it's cracked up to be. Think Ben Stiller has it bad when he has to meet Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents? Well, Alexander Zalachenko, Salander's father, is about 50 million times worse. In addition to learning that her father is at the helm of a criminal empire, Salander meets her half-brother Ronald Niedermann, a killer who feels no pain, but dishes out brutality as naturally as breathing. The final scenes of the novel feature a brutal father-daughter showdown, where blood is spilled on both sides. Salander's mother is dead, her twin sister Camilla, whom she despises, has long since disappeared, and Zala and Niedermann are seriously twisted men who simply want Salander dead. But the feeling is mutual; in this novel, we learned that Salander got landed in a mental hospital as a child after attempting to kill her abusive father. Essentially, Salander has no family and hasn't for a long time. She'll have to turn to her friends to get the support one would normally hope to get from a family.

Questions About Family

  1. Even though Zala is mostly evil, and Salander mostly good, can you see a family resemblance? What might Salander have inherited from Zalachenko?
  2. Why does family hold so little importance for Zalachenko?
  3. How does Salander feel about her mother? Why do you think Salander dislikes Camilla so much?
  4. What do you think Salander's other half-siblings might be like?
  5. Do you think Salander will ever have children?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
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