Study Guide

The Girl Who Played With Fire Sex

By Stieg Larsson


[George Bland] evidently thought that life had become much more interesting. He had met a woman who was teaching him about mathematics and eroticism. (1.141)

Salander and Bland seem to be in a consensual relationship. The problem is, he's 16 and she's 25, even though they do look the same age. In Sweden, where the age of consent is 15, this wouldn't be a problem, but in Grenada it's 18, so she's breaking the law.

In Bjurman's eyes the conclusion was straight forward. Salander was a whore at the bottom of the social scale. If she dared to protest to the Guardianship Agency, no-one was going to believe her word against his. (2.9)

By "a whore" Bjurman means both promiscuous person and prostitute. He really does think she has sex for money. In any case, he thinks the fact that nobody cares about her, in part because she's believed to be "a whore," means he can rape her with impunity

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." (4.127)

According to Dag, Bjurman's logic is the logic used by the men victimizing the young women in the sex trade. This is also the logic used by serial rapist/killer Martin Vanger in Tattoo in choosing his victims.

Mimmi: "I know only one person who would even dream of ringing my bell after a year and a half's silence to ask me if I wanted to f***." (6.80)

Now this is a little more pleasant kind of sex talk. Although Mimmi is peeved with Salander, everything is still normal and non-violent here. Mimmi also sounds a little flattered and amused by the turn of events.

[Harriet] had had sex with three men in her life. First her father and then her brother. She had killed her father and run away from her brother. Somehow she had survived and met a man with whom she had created a new life for herself. (6.135)

This sounds like more dark negative stuff about rape, this time to clue the reader on things that happened in Tattoo. But the thing to notice here is hopeful: even after Harriet father and brother raped her, she's able to have a healthy sex life and relationship with her husband and now with Blomkvist.

Berger did not pry and she was not jealous. On the other hand, she would certainly tease them both about it on some suitable occasion. (7.78)

It's true about Berger. Jealousy doesn't seem to be part of her make-up. She finds Blomkvist and Harriet's affair amusing, and she wants to make it even more amusing by teasing them. She doesn't get the chance in this book. Harriet fades out of the picture when the trouble starts.

The only person who understood Berger's passion for sex with Blomkvist was her husband, and he understood it because she dared to discuss her needs with him. It was not a matter of infidelity, but of desire. (7.83)

Interesting arrangement isn't it? Critics seem fond of saying that these novels promote stereotypes of Sweden as a place where everybody is wild and free about sex. But if you look closely, you can see that the novels represent Sweden as having conservative norms about sex. (Think: the cops' reaction to Mimmi's toys.) Berger and Blomkvist's relationship is very unconventional.

The optimum gratification for her would probably be threesome with her husband and Blomkvist, and that would never happen. Blomkvist was so straight she liked to tease him about being a homophobe. (7.111)

Ha! Berger would like to make the relationship even more unconventional. She is like the queen of sexual openness. This quote also clears up any questions you might have had about Blomkvist's sexual orientation.

Mimmi used Salander's T-shirt […] to tie her hands behind her back. (7.158)

Salander could not help thinking that this was similar to the way Nils F***ing Slimebag Bjurman had tied her up two years ago. (7.159)

The similarities ended there. (7.160)

Like Alice Sebold's best selling The Lovely Bones, this novel delights in contrasting unconventional, but consensual sex, with non-consensual sex that seems to have strange parallels. This is one of the clearest examples.

The message ended with the information that Vanger had booked the same hotel as last time. (9.107)

Salander digested the information. Then she shrugged […]. (9.108)

Salander finds out about Blomkvist's affair with Harriet by reading his emails. Since she helped Blomkvist solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger, she's one of the few people besides Blomkvist and Berger who know Harriet's secrets. We'd have thought she'd have something more of a reaction that that. But, she's pretending she doesn't care.

Mimmi: No. Lisbeth has sex with me, but that isn't the same thing as being a dike. I don't think she knows herself what sort of sexual identity she has. I'd guess she's bisexual." (20.30)

This is Mimmi explaining Salander's sexual identity to the police. From what we read in Tattoo, Mimmi is giving a pretty good assessment. As far as matters of consensual sex are concerned, Salander doesn't know much about labeling sexual identities.

The press would rip him to shreds. A member of the Security Police who exploited teenage prostitutes…If only those f***ing cunts hadn't been so young. (23.29)

Now we're in Gunnar Björck's head, and Björck is thinking about himself. Björck is the guy most responsible for keeping the lid on the whole Zala affair. The prostitutes he's talking about were provided to him by Zala's sex trade business, which Björck helps facilitate.

"I think that these crimes have something to do with the sex trade. And Salander would sooner die than be involved in something like that. I told you she's a damned moralist." (26.18)

It's true! It would totally violate her moral code and disqualify her from being a hero in a Stieg Larsson novel. That's why we're pretty sure it wasn't her that killed Dag and Mia right from the beginning.