Summary and Analysis
Part 2: Consequence Analysis: Chapter 14
Salander slowly recovers from the physical trauma following the rape, and turns to the Internet for information that will help her. She learns that sadists, such as Bjurman, target victims. Realizing how he — and no doubt others who know of her legal state — perceives her, she decides to get another tattoo: a single bar wrapped around her ankle.
In Hedeby, Blomkvist's relationship with Cecilia has deepened and neither of them is sure how to proceed. Cecilia realizes she's been reckless with Blomkvist, and recalls the last time she saw her father, nearly 20 years before. She remembers how he verbally abused her, accusing her of failing to keep her marriage together, rather than putting the blame where it belonged — on her violent husband. Tired of pretending she doesn't want to see Blomkvist, she gives him a call. A few days later, while lying in bed together, Blomkvist reminds Cecilia that he must leave for prison.
Back in Stockholm, Salander shows up for her meeting with Bjurman. This time, she arrives equipped with a taser and a video recording of his rape of her from the week before. After raping him with an anal plug and tattooing him with a descriptive five-line message, Salander forces Bjurman to agree to her terms: He'll never contact her again, he'll give her back control of her bank accounts, and, eventually, he'll restore her competency legally through in the courts; and if he doesn't, she'll make sure the DVD of her rape goes public.
Having taken care of her Bjurman problem, Salander shows up at Milton Security to ask Armansky for work. Armansky is annoyed by her flakiness over the past few weeks and has nothing for her. While Salander visits the Milton office, a radio broadcast grabs her attention. An announcement is aired about Vanger's new part-ownership of Millennium and Blomkvist's return as publisher following his prison stay. Salander quickly leaves the office, returning to her home to review her research to see what she can make of the connection between Frode, Vanger, Wennerstrom, and Blomkvist.
Finally, Berger, after reviewing both her own and Vanger's interviews regarding the Vanger Corporation's silent partnership with Millennium, stays up late mulling over concerns. She wonders how she can be an ethical investigative editor if her magazine's financial state is dependent not only on Vanger, but also on how Vanger and Blomkvist's relationship continues — all considerations that Blomkvist raised initially and that Berger dismissed. Meanwhile, Blomkvist is contemplating the same issues in prison. Blomkvist, however, seems less concerned with the ethics and more concerned with how the media blitz will effect public perception of him, of Millennium, and most importantly of Wennerstrom, whom he is sure is highly displeased with the turn of events.
Chapter 14 establishes tattoos as symbols as well as adds complexity to the theme of trust running through the novel. First, Salander's addition of a tattoo on her ankle to remind her of what she survived indicates that she refuses to be seen as a victim and that all of her tattoos carry some sort of emotional weight for her. In her eyes, these permanent changes to her body reflect changes within herself. Therefore, the tattoo she gives Bjurman, declaring "I AM A SADISTIC PIG, A PERVERT, AND A RAPIST," is the ultimate revenge, a permanent external reminder for him of what he is on the inside.
Secondly, Berger and Blomkvist's reactions to the media blitz surrounding Millennium builds on the theme of trust. Berger is shaken by the news, wondering if she can trust herself and her own judgment. Should Berger have pushed through with the deal with Vanger? Should she have listened to Blomkvist's criticisms? Blomkvist, on the other hand, is realizing the benefits of the deal. His reputation, while not repaired, changes from that of lazy reporter to a justice-seeker thwarted by corrupt corporations. Therefore, Blomkvist sees all the gains, whereas Berger's eyes have been open to what they have lost. This divide in perspective, along with their physical division — he's in prison, she's back in Stockholm — indicates yet another rift between them. Will Berger and Blomkvist ever see eye to eye again? Will they continue to trust one another?