Study Guide

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Family

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The family drama in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo takes on soap-opera proportions. The Vanger family is super wealthy and influential but, as Blomkvist soon learns, also "clearly dysfunctional" (9.138). To find out why and how Harriet Vanger disappeared in 1966, 36 years prior, Blomkvist and Salander have to comb through one hundred years of Vanger family history, Nazis and all. And what they uncover is not pretty.

But, the Vanger family isn't where the discussion on family stops. Blomkvist has unconventional views on family, and finds more success in friendships with benefits than married with children. For example, his relationship with his teen daughter is a problem area for him. Salander's family is largely mysterious, though we learn a tiny bit about her mother and sister. Salander's family history is a focal point of the next installments of the trilogy.

Questions About Family

  1. The novel doesn't precisely explain why no Vanger ever gets a divorce, even when spouses drop out of the picture or are abusive. What do you think the deal is?
  2. Three of Henrik's four brothers, including Martin's father, are Nazis. Is the novel connecting Nazism with rape and murder and incest? Do Martin and his Nazi great-uncles seem to share the same belief system?
  3. How will Cecilia, Harriet, Anita, and Henrik deal with the knowledge of Martin's crimes?
  4. Are there some positive depictions of family life in the novel?
  5. How would you describe Blomkvist's relationship with his daughter?
  6. The next two books in the trilogy deal with Salander's family history. What are you're your predictions about what we'll learn about Salander's past?
  7. Why is Henrik so sure that a family member hurt Harriet?
  8. Which family member did you suspect of hurting Harriet, if any?

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