Summary and Analysis
Part 1: Incentive: Chapter 2
Chapter 2 introduces Dragan Armansky, CEO of Milton Security, one of Sweden's most lucrative and well-established security firms, located near the center of Stockholm. Armansky prefers the less risky aspects of his profession: providing services, such as body guards or high-tech surveillance, to wealthy companies and individuals. Providing private investigation carries the greater risk of the security firm being sued or brought into the courts if criminal activity is discovered.
Fortunately, Armansky has a trusted investigator who handles most of the more unusual or difficult requests he receives: Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old thinly built woman who dresses like a punk rock star and refuses to conform to Armansky's view of what a professional looks and acts like. Additionally, Salander has a tattoo of a dragon on her shoulder, along with several other tattoos that Armansky finds disconcerting. The young woman was referred to him by Holger Palmgren, a lawyer for the firm. Because Armansky trusted Palmgren's judgment, the CEO agreed to give Salander a chance at Milton Security.
After Salander's rocky start as an office assistant, Armansky allows Salander to revise an investigative report she considered sloppy and incomplete. Upon providing Armansky a report that stuns him with its thoroughness, Salander is reassigned to investigations. Despite some moments of tension, Armansky and Salander are able to find a common ground and to continue working together. Armansky's feelings become more protective and fatherly the more he works with Salander. Nonetheless, he seeks out Palmgren to find out more about Salander; what he discovers makes him uncertain whether he can trust her.
Dirche Frode, a lawyer, insists on meeting with the investigator who drew up the report he requested on Mikael Blomkvist. Armansky, unable to find a way to avoid the meeting, sets it up and Salander proceeds to impress Frode with her cold attention to detail. She also shares speculation that Blomkvist, a man known for his reliable and insightful investigations in the past, may have been set up in the Wennerstrom libel case. Salander backs up her speculations by going into detail about Blomkvist's background and noting that his previous work suggests he would never publish something without proper evidence. After hearing Salander's description of Blomkvist and her thoughts on the Wennerstrom case, Frode asks Salander to investigate further. Reluctantly, Armansky agrees to allow her to work on the case, although he fears her involvement might place Salander in a dangerous situation.
Chapter 2 continues to develop the theme of trust; introduces Lisbeth Salander, the title character with the dragon tattoo; and foreshadows events to come. Trust continues to be an issue on several levels. First, Armansky and Salander must learn to trust each other in order to work together. Armansky suspects that Salander has been hurt in the past. This suspicion, along with a secret Palmgren shares with Armansky, makes him unable to fully trust her. Salander, although still very mysterious, also has trust issues: She does not share any information about her personal life with Armansky, and refuses to get emotionally involved in her work, even when dealing with tragic or horrifying cases. Finally, Salander uses the phrase "trust capital" to describe Blomkvist's reputation as a reliable and thoughtful reporter. "Trust capital" is also the phrase Lindberg uses to describe Wennerstrom's uncanny ability to make sound financial predictions. The use of this phrase indicates that trust has worth and that each of the characters judges its worth in unique ways. The idea of "trust capital" provides a lens through which we can view all the characters: What is their trust capital? How is the trust capital maintained? How is trust depleted?
Salander's characterization is linked to Blomkvist's through allusions to the work of Astrid Lindgren. Salander is compared to Pippi Longstocking, Lindgren's most famous character, because of her desire not to be called Pippi Longstocking and Armansky's secret perception of her as such. Like Blomkvist's comparison to Kalle, Salander is being compared to another Astrid Lindgren character. These allusions are important because they not only establish the characters as parallel, but also allow the reader to see Salander and Blomkvist as grown-up versions of Kalle and Pippi. For instance, although Salander does not want to be thought of as Pippi, she does share some of the orphan child's characteristics: Both are fiery, often rude, and follow paths that are fiercely independent. These parallel allusions to Lindgren's work, along with Salander's uncharacteristic interest in Blomkvist's case, suggest the two have a connection that will deepen as the novel continues.