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Themes

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo moves back and forth between consensual, pleasant sex and hideous rapes. The positive, happy sex (of which there's a fair amount) is sexy but understated, without graphics. It's as much about exploring relationships and trying to find intimacy and trust as it is about physical pleasure. Blomkvist and Salander, both sexual adventurers, end up taking down sexual predators. The rapes are recounted and remembered in details too lurid for some readers, who feel that the depictions contribute to problems of sexual assault. Other feel the graphic details are necessary to wake readers up to the issue. As with Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, a novel that probably shared the bestseller list with Tattoo at some point, this story constantly contrasts consensual sexual relationships with abusive, non-consensual ones.

Questions About Sex

  1. Do you approve of Blomkvist's sex life, or do you feel it's just his own business?
  2. How would you describe Salander's attitude toward sex?
  3. Are the novel's depictions of rape too graphic? Not graphic enough?
  4. Why does Salander reveal some, but not all, of the details of Blomkvist's sex life in her report to Frode? Do you agree with him that she should have left all the details of his sex life out?
  5. Do you think Blomkvist is really worried about the age difference between himself and Salander? Do you think it's a problem?
  6. Why does Cecilia end her affair with Blomkvist?
  7. Does being raped by Bjurman change Salander's attitude toward sex? Why doesn't Salander report him?
  8. Do you agree with Salander that Harriet should have reported Martin to the authorities? Was it her responsibility to make sure that he didn't hurt other women?

Chew on This

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