Study Guide

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest Versions of Reality

By Stieg Larsson

Versions of Reality

"I hired Niedermann as an assistant a number of years ago. I thought he could protect me, but he has actually taken over my life. He comes and goes as he pleases…I have nothing more to say about it." (3.24)

Zalachenko is trying to spin his story and bury the truth. Zalachenko a helpless victim? Come on! Zalachenko is also pretending Niedermann is some random guy, when he's actually Zalachenko's son.

"[Zalachenko] is down the hall. But don't worry about him for the time being. You have to concentrate on getting well." (3.123)

The nurse is cut off from the reality of the situation. Salander has every reason to worry that her father is so close to her.

She is twenty-six years old and not even five feet tall. She has been called a psychopath, a murderer, and a lesbian Satanist. There is almost no limit to the fantasies that have been circulated about her. (3.143)

These are the first lines of the book Blomkvist write about Salander and the Section. The book is an attempt to help the public see the real Salander, while exposing the true identities of the corrupt people who have been victimizing her.

He knew that something was not right in Niedermann's head, that he saw visions – ghosts even. More than once Zalachenko had to intervene when Niedermann began acting irrationally or lay curled up in terror. (4.165)

This is a glimpse inside the mind of Zalachenko. The section at the end of the novel where we see in Niedermann's head suggests that Zalachenko is much to blame for his son's terrors and visions.

"She's strange, no doubt about it, and she has big problems and is under stress. But she's calm and matter-of-fact and seems to be able to cope with her situation." (9.211)

Dr. Jonasson looks to another doctor to confirm that Salander doesn't seem psychotic or otherwise mentally ill.

That she was locked up had turned out to be a blessing. (17.151)

Salander's confinement is restful and productive because she's cared for and protected from harm. Most of all, it's restful because she has a computer and the Internet.

"I brought you into SMP and you start digging up dirt. What kind of media whore are you?"

Berger's eyes narrowed. She turned ice-cold. She had had enough of the word whore. (22.21-22)

Berger gives her boss the benefit of the doubt even after she learns he's involved in child labor. But, when he shows her his colors, she changes her point of view and socks it to him.

With her very appearance she had already indicated that she intended to brush aside the prosecutor's accusations as nonsense. (25.24)

Salander is decked out in makeup, piercings, and a short skirt. She isn't quite showing the court the "real" Salander – she's recreating herself Madonna-style to make a point.

Good God. She's a victim, pure and simple. (28.15-16)

Prosecutor Ekström finally sees that he's been a pawn in the Section's game and that he's helped victimize Salander.

She had defeated him. She's supernatural. […] She's a monster. (Eplogue.189)

This, of course, is Niedermann's version of the reality of his sister.

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