Summary and Analysis Part 1: Incentive: Chapter 6



Vanger shares a few more facts about Harriet's disappearance, showing Blomkvist numerous photographs from the day she vanished. Vanger explains his theory that someone murdered Harriet during the commotion surrounding the car accident. He thinks that the killer hid the body in a car trunk until the bridge was cleared so that the murderer could then dispose of the body in secret. Vanger and Blomkvist eat dinner, and Vanger insists that the final detail of his story will be shared after they finish their meals.

The scene then cuts back to Salander, who visits Plague, a man who is as skilled with electronics as he is inept with social situations. She provides Plague 5,000 kronor in exchange for an electric cuff, a tool used by hackers. Plague calls her "Wasp," a code name drawn from her wasp tattoo.

The narrative returns to Vanger, who shows Blomkvist the wall of pressed flowers and explains that when Harriet was a child, she began the tradition of giving him a pressed flower in a handmade frame every year. The year after she vanished, Vanger began receiving a flower again, and he is certain that the arrival of the flowers is meant to remind him of his grief.

As the chapter comes to a close, Vanger finally makes Blomkvist his offer: Vanger wants Blomkvist to live in Hedestad for a year, using all of his investigative energies to try to solve the mystery of Harriet's disappearance in exchange for 200,000 kronor a month — a fee that will be doubled if he actually solves the case. Although Blomkvist finds the sum impressive, he's still hesitant to agree. At this point Vanger, seeing Blomkvist waiver, reveals his ace card. Vanger has information that can prove that Wennerstrom is a crook, and he'll provide Blomkvist with evidence at the end of Blomkvist's year of work.


Chapter 6 provides the reader with more insight into Blomkvist's and Salander's characters and expands the symbol of the pressed flowers introduced in the prologue. First, the author uses shifts in focus between Salander and Blomkvist to situate these two characters as parallel figures. Both Salander and Blomkvist seem, at this point, motivated to seek out truth. Blomkvist's motives are clearly ethical, whereas Salander's motivations remain more obscure. For instance, the excerpt from Blomkvist's novel that Salander reads contains an analogy to explain his reporting philosophy. Just as a crime reporter must gain the perspectives of all involved — from victim to prosecutor — to present a complete and accurate story, a financial reporter should pursue a full picture. Salander, however, has not stated or alluded to a moral philosophy that guides her work as an investigator. While it's clear she's willing to resort to bending the law to seek out answers, it's unclear where Salander draws the line. She is willing to "borrow" a Milton Security vehicle without permission, but she is sure to return it when she's finished. As Blomkvist and Salander's quests continue to develop, their moral centers will grow and be challenged by the events to come.

The flowers now reintroduced from the prologue enable the reader to more fully understand the emotional import of the symbolism. The flowers began as a gift from a living Harriet, and continued after her presumed death. Are the deliveries meant to drive Vanger crazy, as he suggests, or is their meaning more benign? The way in which the flowers are presented provides a clue: The flowers, pressed and framed, are no longer alive; and yet, through being preserved, they maintain an ageless beauty. The flowers thus emerge as a symbol of Harriet's life. She, too, was "plucked" from life and, in Vanger's memory, remains as beautifully preserved as these flowers. The flowers' symbolism will grow more about the sender and his or her motives are revealed.