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Topic: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

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Subject: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Date Posted: 12/22/2011 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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  1. Careful observation is the foundation of any successful journalist's or private investigator's career. Discuss how the various characters' outward appearance aligned with their true personality in this novel.
  2. Lisbeth Salander's character is enigmatic and antisocial throughout much of the book. What do you see as the catalyst for the slow emergence of her personality?
  3. Lisbeth judges everyone harshly, including herself. What do you think of her assessment of Blomkvist?
  4. While poverty, social injustice, parental abuse, and difficult childhoods are often cited as explanations for criminal behavior, Lisbeth believes in free will and choice. Do you agree?
  5. What propels Blomkvist to lay aside his professional ethics and take on the investigation proposed by Vanger?
  6. The relationship between Blomkvist and Cecilia is fraught from the beginning. How does Cecilia come to terms with it? What do you think about her decision?
  7. How successfully does Larsson develop Lisbeth's connection to her mother? Is there anything about their relationship that helps shed light on Lisbeth's behavior?
  8. Were you surprised by the book's portrayal of right-wing fanaticism and violence against women in a country known for its liberal views?
  9. Which character's duplicity—or innocence—did you find the most unexpected? Which one emerged as your favorite?
  10. Discuss Mikael Blomkvist's role in the investigation. Do you feel that he made as important a contribution as Lisbeth? Why or why not?
  11. The narrative contained a number of plot twists. Who did you imagine sent the framed flowers to Vanger each year?
Date Posted: 12/22/2011 1:26 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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For me, since I have seen all of the Swedish movies in this series, it is hard for me to answer these questions for just the first book. I can say that I don't think in Tattoo that Lisbeths relationship with her mother is developed enough, even though her mother dies in this book the relationship is more concretely explored in the later books/films. I found Vanger to be almost one dimensional which is not the same as innocence but since he is the only person we can't be suspicious of he does have an innocence about him. I think maybe Larsson made him one dimensional because of his innocence. I never really doubted that the flowers were from Harriet even while watching the films. Something made me believe she was alive from really early on in the story.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 12:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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In the first book he only hinted at her childhood, the details aren't revealed until later books. I think he wants to keep her mysterious as long as he can. 

8) I didn't really know much about Sweden so I can't say I thought anything about their value system or how the book portrays it. After the fact I know that feminism was a pet cause of his and he worked in his real life against the subjugation and mistreatment of women. Even in a progressive country there are bound to be some neanderthals. 

Date Posted: 12/24/2011 3:08 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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I felt like Blomkvist was Larssons projection of himself or at least how he wanted to be percieved. There were a lot of things in the book that felt personal like Blomkvist's reading tastes, it was almost like I was getting a Steig Larsson reccomends reading list.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 12/31/2011 3:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
Posts: 5,767
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I agree, I think there was an awful lot of projection in Blomkvist. It does seem a lot like a superhero fantasy that someone might play out in their head. I give him credit though for making Lisbeth the real brains and brawn of the story, he had the confidence to let a tiny, messed up girl be the hero. 

2. Lisbeth Salander's character is enigmatic and antisocial throughout much of the book. What do you see as the catalyst for the slow emergence of her personality?

I think he just wants to keep her mysterious as long as possible. He's cagy about a lot of details in book 1, like with her father. You know she did something terrile but he just hints at it until later books. I have recently read that he had planned 10 books for this series so he probably figured he had plenty of time for a slow reveal. That's a long time to keep a character interesting. 

My dad and stepmother were visiting over Christmas and we got taking a bit about the book even though she hasn't read it. We were talking about how Larsson's girlfriend got screwed when he died because they weren't married and my SM was saying she had heard that he would sometimes introduce her as his wife and the girlfriend would always correct him, insisting on saying no, we're not married. I guess it figures he would be with a pretty strong feminist. It's just tpo bad that bit her in the ass inthe end.