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Themes

The Girl Who Played With Fire is loaded with all manner of violent acts. It has shoot-outs, tase-downs, beatings, fire bombs, rapes and other forms of sexual violence, murders, dismemberments, and even an axing. Salander herself dishes out a fair amount of this violence, in defense of herself and others. She's also the recipient of much violence, and the novel ends with her barely clinging to life after being shot in the head by her father and buried alive by her brother. Some more subtle types of violence are also at play, such as the violence done to Salander's character by the media, by the social welfare system, and by Peter Teleborian, the evil psychiatrist who keeps her restrained in a psychiatric ward when she's a young girl. We can also include here the violence done to the female victims of the sex trade by the courts and the police who ignore the crimes against them.

Questions About Violence

  1. With such a violent protagonist, does the novel glorify the very violence it seems to despise? If so, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
  2. Is Salander always justified in the violence she uses, or could she have used non-violent means to solve her problems?
  3. Is violence something inherent in the nature of the Zalachenko family, or is it something imposed by the circumstances of their lives?
  4. Does Blomkvist do anything violent in this novel, or have any violence done to him?
  5. Could Salander's hacking be considered a violent act?
  6. Can we connect the murder plot in Grenada with the plots hatching in Stockholm?

Chew on This

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