Study Guide

The Girl Who Played With Fire Friendship

By Stieg Larsson


[Blomkvist] was not in love with her – they were as unlike as two people could be – but he was very fond of her and he really missed her, as exasperating as she sometimes was. (1.43)

In a way, they aren't really so different. They have similar approaches to sex and relationships (though she is usually the seducer, while he lets the ladies make the moves). They both have strong ideas about what is right and wrong. They both aren't afraid to break the rules to find the truth…. We'll let you continue the list from here.

If Salander thought so little of him that she could not even bring herself to greet him in the tunnelbana, then their friendship was apparently over and the damage irreparable. He would make no attempt to contact her again. (1.45)

Poor Blomkvist! Sadly, this is exactly what Salander claims she wants him to do. He doesn't know it, but she sees him as more than a friend. He's actually the first person she's ever fallen in love with. If he knew, how do you think he would react?

He had hurt her. She acknowledged this had not been his intention. He had behaved rather decently. It was her own fault that she had fallen "in love" with him. The very phrase was a contradiction when it came to Lisbeth F***ing B**** Salander. (4.48)

She loves him too much, in a way, to be friends with him. She's also too afraid of his rejection to tell him the way she really feels. For her, the only way to tamp down the pain is by keeping Blomkvist away from her.

She had stared at him for a whole minute and decided that she did not have a grain of feeling left, because it would have been the same as bleeding to death. (4.50)

This fabulous sentence lets us know that Salander's emotions are being held back by a flood gate. Let one emotion out, and the whole flood will follow. It also shows us how deeply Salander does feel and how afraid she is of this.

She didn't understand why he had so stubbornly tried to stay in contact with her, as if she were some f***ing welfare project she had taken on. (4.51)

Why do you think Salander is so sure Blomkvist doesn't genuinely like her? She did, after all, save his life, his career, and help him get revenge. Plus, they got along well, most of the time, and had a good time in bed. He has every reason to respect and care for her. Plus, he has no idea that she's under guardianship.

I keep squandering my friends. (5.73)

This realization sets Salander on a path to rectify the situation, though she excludes Blomkvist from the list of people she's trying to reconnect with.

"Bulls***," Armansky said. "You've got an attitude problem and you treat people like dirt when they're trying to be your friends. Simple as that." (8.25)

Do you think Armansky's assessment is correct? Salander has a complicated relationship with him. He used to be her boss, and she was always afraid she would interfere in her life. But, has he ever treated her as a friend? Well, maybe he is now. True or not, what he says is what she needs to hear in order to grow in her life.

She fed him one bite at a time. Normally Palmgren hated being spoon-fed, but he understood Salander's need.[…] She was feeding him as a gesture of humility – in her case an extraordinarily rare occurrence. (8.95)

Palmgren and Salander have a pretty tender friendship. But it's taken over a decade to build. It's beautiful to watch how this friendship continues to grow in the The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Lisbeth Salander a triple murderer. [Paolo Roberto] could hardly believe it. Not that skinny little f***ing freaky chick. But should he do something about it? And if so, what? (20.108)

We can just tell by his tone that real-life boxer Paolo Roberto is a friend of Salander – even though she wouldn't know it. In her book, she's totally unfriendable.

She cursed herself. She was riddled with guilt. The blame was all hers. Her address was secret; she was safe. And then she had persuaded Mimmi to live in her apartment, at the address anyone could find. (29.36)

Oh, Salander. This time you really do have something to feel guilty about. We know your intentions were so good, but even we could see this coming. But, hey, what kind of hero doesn't have a few blind spots?

Salander in love. What a f***ing joke. (29.50)

He would never find out. She would never give him the satisfaction. (29.51)

Would it give Blomkvist satisfaction to know that Salander is in love with him? Do you think she'll make good on her vow? Will her true feelings ever be known to him?

Blomkvist felt as if someone was squeezing his heart. He felt that he had to find Salander and hold her close. (30.83)

What Salander doesn't know is that the keys to Blomkvist's heart are trust and intimacy (and not minding if he sleeps with other women) – the more he knows about a woman he cares for, the more he seems to like her.

"Mir-g-kral," she said, and heard a voice that sounded like mush. She swallowed. Mikael. It's Salander." (32.108)

OK, we think the fact that Salander tries to call Blomkvist in her moment of greatest need shows that she's willing to try trusting him, in spite of her fear of getting hurt.

Her last thoughts were of Miriam Wu. (32.142)

Please forgive me, Mimmi. (32.143)

This tells us a lot about how much she cares about Mimmi. What do you think, exactly, she's asking Mimmi to forgive her for? Is it the fact that she put Mimmi in harm's way by giving Mimmi her apartment, or something more?