Chapter 9 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 855

Monday, January 6–Wednesday, January 8

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Blomkvist meets Martin, who accepts that he is here to write Henrik’s autobiography. Vanger shows the journalist an article gloating over the presumed demise of Millennium and descrying Erika Berger as a lightweight journalist and feminist. Vanger reminds Blomkvist that he should never pick a fight he cannot win but should also never allow an insult to go unpunished. Blomkvist gets out his tape recorder and asks Vanger to begin by telling him about each of his many family members.

Lisbeth Salander is hesitant to meet her new guardian, Nils Bjurman, for the second time. She is not afraid—she is rarely afraid—but she is uncomfortable. His predecessor, Holger Palmgren, was kind and courteous but had a stroke, so Bjurman inherited her case. For twelve years she has been “under social and psychiatric guardianship.” Two of these years were spent in a children’s clinic because at age thirteen she was deemed “emotionally disturbed and dangerously violent” toward her classmates and herself. She consistently and stubbornly refused to do anything anyone asked of her, as evidenced by her completion of nine years of compulsory schooling without receiving her certificate. She was no more cooperative with those attempting to diagnose her mental deficiencies.

At fifteen, largely through the efforts of her first trustee, Salander was released from psychiatric care and moved to foster care because her family was deemed dysfunctional. Four foster homes later, she was arrested several times for drugs, public intoxication, and assault. Salander again refused to speak and was again labeled as a social deviant who should be permanently incarcerated. In court, her (at the time) trustee became her lawyer, and Palmgren argued brilliantly that since she did not speak the recommendation was based on nothing but supposition. The court offered a compromise: Salander was deemed emotionally disturbed and was placed under Palmgren’s guardianship.

Eleven years later, she was the one who discovered Palmgren after he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Then she was assigned a new guardian. While she had been on almost familial terms with Palmgren and he had let her control her own finances, Bjurman insists on controlling every aspect of her finances, including managing her considerable savings and granting Salander a mere allowance. When he asks her about her job, she lies and tells him making coffee and running errands is the extent of her work for Milton Security.

After listening to Vanger for an hour, Blomkvist knows this book will tell a terrific story full of intrigue and scandal. Although he has no hope of solving the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance, he sees that this incident—and Henrik’s open accusations—has shaped the family dynamic for decades. His first step in making sense of it all is to create a “gallery of characters” dating back to the early sixteenth century. To avoid a feud between brothers, the family patriarch settled all shares of the company equally among family members; even now, shares in the company can only be sold to other family members. It is a “patchwork quilt of alliances, factions, and intrigues.”

Blomkvist identifies twenty-three family members (excluding Henrik, his mother, and children under the age of twelve) who could have been responsible for Harriet’s disappearance; seven of those have died and several others are quite old. Unlike Vanger, Blomkvist believes other suspects are possible. He adds Dirch Frode, the lawyer, as well as several servants and a few farmers who lived near the Vanger house. In all, forty names are on the list.

The phone lines are installed the next day, and Blomkvist feels better being connected to the outside world. He e-mails Erika Berger to let her know he is now accessible. When he goes to the café, Susanne asks what he is working on and he tells her the cover story. She jokes with him and says she has been serving Vangers for thirty-five years and can tell him plenty of family gossip.

Nearly all the Vangers live long lives. It is odd that Harriet came from a branch of the family who died early tragic deaths (her grandfather died in the war, her father accidentally drowned); Blomkvist notes the “strange symmetry.” The only heir from that grandfather is Martin, who is still unmarried at the age of fifty-two. One family oddity is the conspicuous absence of divorce and remarriage, another is the fact that one entire branch of the family dispersed from Hedestad with one exception—Gunnar Karlman, who is the editor of the Hedestad Courier. Given all the data, Blomkvist narrows the list of potentially interesting people to thirteen.

Henrik Vanger’s assessment of his family as dysfunctional is based on more than his suspicions regarding their involvement in Harriet’s disappearance. Richard was not the only Nazi party member. Greger was a lifelong follower. Harald studied medicine and was part of a movement encouraging both euthanasia and sterilization of “undesirable elements.” Harald only moved back to Hedeby because he hates Henrik for marrying a Jewish woman he helped smuggle out of Germany; he wants to hate him from as close as possible.

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