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Themes

The 36-year-old mystery of Harriet Vanger makes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo seem like one gigantic cold case. Blomkvist and Salander journey deep in Vanger family history, struggling, like the readers, to pick out the important suspects. In the process, they discover very present and very horrific crimes. Tattoo seems to make an argument about history: studying it is important, and can help us make the present a safer and more just place. Tattoo also sets us up for a journey into Salander's past in the next two books. Apparently, she has some dark memories the narrator doesn't share with us.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. When the people who know about Martin are all dead, will the memory of his crimes be completely erased? Or do you think they'll leave the story for future generations?
  2. Is Martin's story important to Swedish history? Should it be published? Shared with law enforcement?
  3. Is it important to study history? Do you know your family's history? Could you write a book about your family's secrets? And should you?
  4. Is the comfort of the innocent Vangers who are still living, and of the innocent Vanger employees, more important than making public the stories of Martin and Gottfried?

Chew on This

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