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Themes

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest has its share of gruesome violence, including depictions of rape, child molestation, and horror chambers where women are held against their wills. During Salander's trial, Mikael Blomkvist tells his sister, Annika Giannini (Salander's lawyer) "[…] this story isn't primarily about spies and secret government agencies; it's about violence against women and the men who enable it" (28.60). It's also about the men like Blomkvist, Armansky, Edklinth, Jonasson, and Bublanski, who have good relationships with women. As noted in "What's Up With the Epigraph?", the novel seems to argue that violence against women can be counteracted if men and women train equally in the arts of self defense and self protection.

Questions About Violence

  1. What do you think about Salander nailing Niedermann's feet to the floor? Would she have still done it if he could feel pain? Did she have any other options?
  2. Why doesn't Salander kill Niedermann?
  3. Do you think the publication of Salander's story will eventually make Sweden safer for children?
  4. Do you think that some of the violent scenes in the novel are meant to parody Hollywood movies? Why or why not?
  5. Should men and women train equally in self defense and weaponry? What about children?

Chew on This

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