Summary and Analysis Part 3: Mergers: Chapter 17



Ready to talk with Cecilia about her whereabouts on the day Harriet disappeared, Blomkvist knocks on her door, only to hear Harald emerge from his nearby cabin and yell, "Your whore isn't home." Shocked by Harald's behavior, Blomkvist briefly confronts him before storming off to see Vanger. Vanger explains that Harald's been calling Cecilia a whore ever since she lost her virginity to a man who was a quarter Jewish. After calming down a bit, Blomkvist shares with Vanger his latest discoveries, which amaze the old man.

Returning home, Blomkvist is surprised to see his daughter, Pernilla, on his doorstep. She explains that she's on her way to a Bible camp and that she thought she'd drop in for a visit. The next day when Blomkvist takes her to the train station, they talk briefly about her religious faith. She then encourages him to continue his Bible studies, referring to the verses he has taped on his wall. Blomkvist realizes that the numbers in Harriet's diary are Bible verses.

Blomkvist rushes to Gottfried's cabin to read Harriet's Bible. The verses are underlined and all are about women being punished for sexual acts in violent ways. He then makes a connection between the names and initials next to each verse. Blomkvist recalls Detective Morell talking about another unsolved mystery of a girl named Rebeka who was raped and murdered, her head set in burning coals.

Later that night, Vanger suffers a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital. Although he's in semi-stable condition, Blomkvist and Frode both are worried. Blomkvist asks who he should speak to in lieu of Vanger, and Frode says he can talk to him about the case. They talk over the latest details and Frode reveals that Salander ran a background check on him. After reading the report, Blomkvist realizes that Salander hacked into his computer to learn many of his most private secrets.


Chapter 17 builds on the parallel between Harriet and Pernilla, as well as the theme of violence against women. First, Blomkvist immediately sees the connections between Harriet and Pernilla when his daughter arrives. In addition to their interest in religion, both girls have fathers that are largely absent from their lives. This connection between the two girls explains some of Blomkvist's deep interest in the investigation. Like Vanger, Blomkvist has begun to see Harriet as a surrogate daughter and the quest for her killer as a moral imperative.

Secondly, the theme connecting sexuality and violence builds with the discovery of the Bible verses, each of which deals with a woman being punished for sexual acts. Until now, Cecilia and Salander have been the most prominent examples of women as victims of violence. These Bible verses tie the horrifying story of Rebeka's murder not only to Harriet, but also to Cecilia and Salander, creating a sense that violence against women is pervasive and even systemic. Author Larsson, through his focus on violence against women, argues violence like that experienced by Cecilia and Salander is not isolated and that such violence is often unresolved and rooted in warped or sexist views of women.