Study Guide

The Girl Who Played With Fire Justice and Judgment

By Stieg Larsson

Justice and Judgment

Dag: "It's a tremendous assault on human rights, and the girls involved are so far down society's ladder that they're of no interest to the legal system. […] Of all the crimes involving the sex trade, 99.99 percent are not reported to the police […] (4.127)

The novel argues forcefully that the justice system does not protect prostitutes. This is a fictional universe, but it's commenting on problems Larsson sees in the real world, and not just in Sweden. What's your take on this issue? Are there places where this isn't true?

"Dag's book is a polemic aimed at the people who are making money from trafficking. My thesis is statistics, field studies, law texts, and a study of how society and the courts treat the victims. (5.32)

Blomkvist is a polemical writer too, from what we've heard. He's all about angrily denouncing corrupt people. He and Dag see themselves as journalistic arms of the justice system. Mia is examining failures by the literal justice system to protect girls from being treated as merchandise and sold for sex.

Dag: "Two months till the deadline. I've done only nine of the twenty-two confrontations we planned." (8.205)

Dag isn't just going to publish his findings; for his article to be just, he needs to confront those he's accusing, giving them a chance to explain, and warning them they will be outed. This is very dangerous business.

Mia: "I can't use real names. I might get criticism for it during my oral exams, but I cannot name the girls. It would put them in real, mortal danger. And obviously I can't identify the johns either, since they could work out which of the girls I had talked to." (8.233)

Dag feels justice is best served by naming those he's accusing (with Mia having arrest warrants served on them when the article comes out). Mia feels justice for the victims is best served by not naming names. But, wouldn't people be able to connect her dissertation with her boyfriend's article and book?

"Our investigation, damn it." Berger suddenly raised her voice. "Dag was a journalist and he was working for Millennium. If he was killed because of his job, I want to know about it." (12.82)

We love Berger in this moment and see why she's the big boss at Millennium. She too considers journalism as an arm of justice. She doesn't wait and strikes as fast as possible. In some ways, she and Salander are a lot alike.

Sometime after midnight [Blomkvist] decided that he couldn't accept the police's assumption that she had murdered Svensson and Johansson. At the very least, he owed her a chance to explain herself before he passed judgment. (15.170)

This is Blomkvist, deciding where he plans to stand in the drama – with Salander, or against her. Lucky for us all, he chooses properly. This is good; we couldn't take it if he stopped believing in her.

Blomkvist: "Let me give you a piece of advice. Don't guess. Don't jump to conclusions." (16.76)

This is Blomkvist advising Malin Eriksson, who's helping him with the investigation. We think it's good advice for any situation.

Armansky was a realist. If the police told him that a person was suspected of murder, the chances were that it was true. So Salander was guilty. (16.129)

Oh, Armansky. Now who's a crappy friend? But, let's clarify, he believes she's the killer, but that she had a good reason for doing the killing. He's still in her corner, and still prepared to stand by her.

"So, hard-rocking lesbian Satanists," Faste said. (17.85)

Faste is one of the detectives on the team investigating the triple murders. He likes to believe the worst about any woman he comes across, and hates Salander from the moment he sees her. He might sound like he's joking here, but he really isn't.

Cupboards, wardrobe, storage boxes, and desk drawers had been emptied out. There was fingerprint powder on every surface. Her highly private sex toys were heaped on the bed. (20.109)

The justice system trampled all over Mimmi's house. We don't recall anybody apologizing to her for trashing her place unjustly. Or was the search unjust? They have real reason to believe Salander's a killer on the loose, and that this is her home.

She made a mental note to deal with [Teleborian] in earnest as soon as she tidied up the rest of this mess. (28.152)

Yeah. We're hoping this happens in the next book. Blomkvist has plans for Teleborian as well. Sorry, to sound vengeful, but both Blomkvist and Salander love revenge. This passage is also ironic; even Salander doesn't suspect how messy things will get before it's over.