Study Guide

The Girl Who Played With Fire Prologue

By Stieg Larsson


  • An unnamed girl is strapped to a metal-framed bed in a dark room.
  • She knows she can't escape her bindings. Since it's late, maybe an unnamed man won't visit her.
  • On the calendar in her brain, she sees that today is the "forty-third day of her imprisonment" (Prologue.5). She's not frightened. But she is angry, very angry.
  • The worst thing about being strapped down, with her arms locked to the bed is the "helplessness" (Prologue. 8) she feels. So, she focuses on a favorite fantasy to distract her:
  • An unnamed man is inside a car with an open window. The girl pours gasoline in the window, then throws in a match. She hears the man screaming and smells his skin burning. (End fantasy.)
  • The girl is alert when she hears the door open. An unnamed man is in the room and the light from outside is bright in her eyes.
  • She despises everything about the man, from his smell to his voice. He tells her "Happy Birthday" (Prologue.18). When he comes close, she manages to kick him lightly on the chin.
  • In turn, he tightens the strap on one ankle, and straps the other one, too. Then he walks out, bolting the door. Helpless in the dark, she dreams of setting him on fire.
  • This is how she spends her thirteenth birthday.