By Jared Lobdell
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Extra resources for A Tolkien Compass: Including J. R. R. Tolkien's Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings
The experience of the rape is described through the eyes of the female protagonist: He raped me. With a punishing violence that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with rage and hatred. My vagina was as dry as my mouth and every pounding blow stabbed through my body like a sword dipped in fire … I almost blanked out; my whole being reduced to a tiny pinprick that cried out no. (Wilson 1994: 194) Other feminist crime writers from this time also deal with the theme of violence and rape; Canadian writer Elizabeth Bowers’ Ladies Night (1988), for example, features a female protagonist, Meg Lacey, who becomes a detective because she was raped in the past and now wants to help the victims of sex crimes.
In addition to Pippi Longstocking and Lindgren’s darker stories about Kalle Blomkvist, Larsson grew up with Enid Blyton’s 40 Barbara Fister adventure stories, which were to the rest of the world what Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were to Americans. He was also a fan of Modesty Blaise, a comic strip character from the 1960s, British in origin but quite popular in Sweden. The parallels with Salander are striking. Modesty Blaise is a bold, sexy young heroine whose origins are a mystery, having been found wandering as an orphan in post-war Eastern Europe.
The judicial system is shown to be completely flawed in its treatment of Salander, at the same time that various judicial investigations are launched as a result of her case. In effect, the democratic process was violated by a breakaway group of the Swedish Secret Police, a remnant of the cold war. Calling themselves the Section, the few left still have considerable power in subverting the law if they fear that it is against the interests of national security (as they define it). The Section is a secret unit that ‘exists inside the government.