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Themes

Readers have the ultimate say on what's right and what's wrong in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Each character has a distinct, and sometimes bizarre, moral code as a guide, for good or bad. Most characters must make tough ethical decisions, sometimes being asked to choose between doing what they think is right and doing what is legal. In most cases, we find people determined to do what they think is right, though we don't always agree with them. We can't help but be in favor of Salander's supporters, though they bend the law for "good." But we also see the Section, a rogue group within the Swedish Secret Police, convinced that their illegal cover-ups and murders are for the greater good.

Questions About Ethics and Morality

  1. Does Salander's moral code change over the course of the three books? Does Blomkvist's?
  2. Do you think that the guys in the Section do anything for the good of the Swedish people?
  3. Which characters are asked to make a choice between doing what they think is right and doing what is legal? How do they negotiate these ethical dilemmas?
  4. Could Salander have gained her freedom if she never broke the law (with her hacking, etc.)?
  5. How would you sum up Erika Berger's approach to journalistic ethics? Do you agree with it.
  6. Armansky's moral code is frequently in conflict with Salander's. Where do they differ? Are their differences resolved in this novel, or not?
  7. Why are people like Officer Modig and Dr. Jonasson willing to break the law and risk their careers to help Salander?

Chew on This

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