Chapter 12 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 548

Wednesday, February 19

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Salander has enough physical evidence to convict her guardian of rape: bruises on her neck and his DNA on her body and clothing. Even if Bjurman claims she wanted to have sex with him, he is her guardian and would be convicted. Such an accusation might even reopen her case because the term “legally incompetent” (how Salander has been designated) can no longer be used for adults. Trusteeship is much less controlling than guardianship is, and that would be her best outcome. A guardian has the freedom to determine how stringently the laws will be applied. Palmgren allowed her almost complete freedom; Bjurman exercises the strictest control.

Despite the possible benefits, Salander has a deep-rooted fear of the police, so it never occurs to her to report the assault—“the police are not an option.” Her lack of reaction obviously angered Bjurman, but in Salander’s circle of acquaintances this is typical behavior for men and women. She sees men with power and women powerless to fight back as “the natural order of things.” Her experience has taught her that, “as a girl, she is legal prey.” However, she has determined her guardian will be punished.

Salander neither forgives nor forgets. In school she always got revenge on the many people who tormented her for being different. She was “an unloved girl with odd behavior” in elementary school. When she became a teenager and moved to high school, “All the Evil” happened. She had no options because she was already a ward of the court and feared incarceration or institutionalization more than she needed to get revenge.

Cecilia and Blomkvist talk about Harriet off the record. Cecilia tells him that one day Harriet would act like a religious fanatic and the next she would wear the makeup and clothing of a “whore.” Looking back, Cecilia can see the teenager kept up the pretense that all was well, but her family was in shambles. Her brother, Martin, had problems in school. Blomkvist observes that the Vangers “all have such low opinions of each other” and they certainly speak their minds.

Salander feels the need to confide in someone. As she surveys her list of friends, she narrows her choices to a mere ten; then she reconsiders, knowing she will have to reveal her secrets. Salander no longer feels the need to keep the people around her happy or appease them as she did in her late teens. She was introduced to her one true friend, Cilla Noren, by her former guardian. Noren, too, dressed alternatively, and she allowed Salander into her band “Evil Fingers.” All the members of the band became her friends, though over the course of five years all of them grew less extreme.

Although the Evil Fingers girls would undoubtedly listen to her with compassion and understanding, Salander does not want them to know she has been declared “non compos mentis.” The last person she considers confiding in is Dragan Armansky, but she knows where that would lead and decides against it. Though Salander is aware that crisis centers for battered, abused, and assaulted women exist all over Sweden, she never considers that option for herself. Instead, she will solve her own problems—and that does not bode well for Herr Advokat Nils Bjurman.

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