Summary and Analysis
Part 1: Incentive: Chapter 4
Just before Christmas, Blomkvist goes to the Millennium office to clear out his things. While there, Blomkvist receives an unexpected call from Dirche Frode, the lawyer who met with Salander in Armansky's office on the day of the trial. Frode invites Blomkvist to Hedestad, a small village several hours north of Stockholm, to meet with his client, 82-year-old Henrik Vanger. Henrik Vanger is the retired CEO of Vanger Companies, a well-known and respected operation in Sweden that currently faces financial difficulties. Frode states that Vanger has a job offer for Blomkvist but that he is unable to say anything else. Blomkvist, surprised by the call and suspicious of the offer, asks for a few days to think about it.
Over Christmas, Blomkvist heads to his ex-wife's house to spend time with his daughter, Pernilla. Blomkvist's relationship with his daughter has improved since she's entered her upper-teens. Her younger years were spent in her father's company only through short visits. During Blomkvist's stay, father and daughter sit in her bedroom talking, and she tells him that she has joined a church. Later, Blomkvist calls Frode and agrees to travel to Hedestad.
The scene then shifts focus to Salander, who is visiting her ailing mother in a nursing home. While Salander's mother is described as being in her mid-forties, she clearly has problems with her memory and her awareness of her surroundings. Salander is affectionate with her mother, even though she doesn't feel she has anything in common with her.
A return to Blomkvist finds him traveling by train to Hedestad. Frode picks him up from the train station and drives him to Vanger's home, which is on Hedeby Island, just outside of the village of Hedestad. Vanger leads Blomkvist to Vanger's study where he begins by stating that he once employed Blomkvist's father and that Blomkvist spent a summer on Hedeby when he was a child. Frustrated and surprised by this information, Blomkvist urges Vanger to get to the point. Vanger acquiesces and states that he has two requests: the first is for Blomkvist to write his biography. He piques Blomkvist's interest by telling the story of his brother Richard, a Nazi-supporter, and Richard's son, Gottfried, a lazy partier with no direction. As a young man, Vanger attempted to help his nephew Gottfried, but had no influence over the man. After Gottfried's death, Vanger and his family invited his widow and her two children to live near them. Unable to conceive offspring, Vanger saw the two children, Harriet and Martin, as his own. Vanger respects Martin, who has become the CEO of Vanger Companies, and mourns the loss of Harriet, who he says was murdered 40 years ago. It is Harriet's murder that drove Vanger to contact Blomkvist and to seek his help. Although he wants Blomkvist to write his biography, Vanger's second and most important request is for Blomkvist to solve the mystery of Harriet's death.
Chapter 4 reveals the identity of the flower-recipient introduced in the prologue. Through the characterization of Henrik Vanger, themes of trust and truth-seeking develop further. First, Henrik Vanger makes his entrance as a main character in this chapter. The prologue introduces an 82-year-old man who has received a pressed flower every year for the last 40 years. Clearly, Henrik Vanger is that man, although he doesn't yet tell Blomkvist about the flowers. Vanger sees himself in Blomkvist, having learned of him in great detail from Salander's report on the reporter Both Vanger and Blomkvist are motivated by the pursuit of truth, and both live according to a strong sense of ethics.
In this chapter, Vanger and Blomkvist are positioned as being motivated by similar systems of trust and truth-seeking, thus highlighting these themes once again. Vanger's interest in Blomkvist, although long-standing, was heightened when he saw Blomkvist go up against Wennerstrom and fail. Vanger's admiration for his attempt, and the grace with which Blomkvist accepted his defeat, prompts Vanger to seek out Blomkvist. Blomkvist, seeing that Vanger is a good man by how he carries himself during their visit, becomes intrigued by the murder mystery. He also, however, is motivated by his own desire to seek out truth. As he reveals in Chapter 3, he has always seen the journalist role as one who discloses difficult yet necessary truths to society. Although Blomkvist earlier doubted his judgment in coming to Hedestad, by the end of Vanger's story the reporter is intrigued by the mystery of Harriet's disappearance.