Study Guide

The Girl Who Played With Fire Technology and Modernization

By Stieg Larsson

Technology and Modernization

[Blomkvist] had come to realize she was a world class hacker, and within an exclusive international community devoted to computer crime at the highest level – and not only to combating it – she was a legend. (1.24)

Technology is a major part of Salander's identity. Like the hackers in Hackers, she seems born to interact with machines.

[Salander] had spent five weeks in a clinic outside Genoa getting the implants that formed the structure of her new breasts. (1.53)

Plastic surgery is always interesting to bring up in terms of technology. And it gives us the excuse to ask how you all feel about plastic surgery in general and Salander's breast augmentation, specifically.

She walked home and sat down at her PowerBook and logged on to the server in Holland, where she started a copy of Asphyxia 1.3. A window opened asking for the name of the hard drive. She had forty different options […] (6.12)

Whoa, does that say forty? This means Salander has control over at least forty computers or computer networks if she chooses to exercise it. Could one of them be yours?

Her trespassing in his computer was not malicious: she just wanted to know what the company was working on, to see the lay of the land. (6.13)

Salander feels she has every right to snoop on those she's close to, and not so close to. In this case, Armansky is the target. We bet Armansky doesn't see things in quite the same context as she does.

An electric shock went through [Armansky]. She's done it again. She's flung out a line about a case she absolutely cannot know a thing about. (8.78)

That's why Salander surfs Armansky's files before visiting him in person. She finds a case in his files and gives him a useful tip as is her annoying habit. She loves giving people info she'd have to be psychic to know. Blomkvist busts her as a hacker (in Tattoo) when he catches her quoting a note from his computer.

From her jacket pocket she took a handful of small bits of crispbread, which she placed carefully on the parquet floor in the dark. I anyone tried to follow her […] the crunching noise would alert her. (10.35)

We love this, and can't wait to try it out. Sometimes, technology doesn't have to be fancy to be effective.


Communication technology spreads bogus articles about Salander and her friends the Evil Fingers, a rock band (who aren't Satanists, and who don't think it's our business whether they are lesbians are not).

Svensson had been dead only a few hours, and already his publisher [Blomkvist] was debating what to do with the work he had left behind. (14.36)

This gives us the shivers. It relates to technology because it's about publishing, but really it's an excuse for us to draw an eerie parallel. Like Svensson, Larsson dies leaving his publisher holding explosive material, namely the three novels before you.

They were hackers not saboteurs. They wanted access to functioning networks, not to destroy them. (21.71)

Important distinction, we think, though there's a fine line. Still, hackers, or hacktivists, are often committed to hacking for social justice and to helping networks find flaws in their security, and other fun stuff.

"We've been watching you since four 4:00. You tripped just about every alarm around our farm." (31.30)

Salander neglects the obvious – that Zala would employ technology to defend himself.