1. “I think you’re wrong. It’s not an insane serial killer who read his Bible wrong. It’s just a common or garden bastard who hates women.”
These lines from Chapter 20, spoken by Salander after she and Blomkvist study the gruesome crimes of the serial killer they’re pursuing, serve as the source for the novel’s original Swedish title, Men Who Hate Women, and exemplify Salander’s belief in personal accountability. She repeats variations on the phrase throughout the novel as she encounters cruel and violent men, most notably in Chapter 25 as she argues with Blomkvist about whether Martin’s violent crimes stem from childhood trauma. For Salander, Martin’s abuse at the hands of his father and any pain he endured do not excuse nor rationalize his crimes. Rather, the quote reveals her deeply held belief in the importance of personal accountability. She argues that Martin’s, and by extension anyone else’s, violence against women is a deliberate choice, not a phenomenon that occurs in response to an unfortunate upbringing or a particular religious belief. As a result of these feelings, Salander punishes those who hate women with no regret and a sense of justification for doing so.
Additionally, the quote reveals Salander’s anger at what she perceives as the constant systematic abuse of women in Swedish society. She believes sexual abuse and violence against women to be a normal part of daily life to the point that, after being assaulted by Bjurman, she refuses to report the incident to the police because she does not believe they will view it as a criminal act. Since no one else in society holds these men accountable for their choices, Salander decides to do so herself. Her reference here to the serial killer as a common bastard indicates her understanding that such men pervade Swedish society and that, furthermore, they deserve utmost contempt. This contempt fuels the anger that eventually leads her to lash out at her rapist and then at Martin. Since the abuse of women is a fundamental part of society that Salander believes authorities simply accept, she takes it upon herself to police and rectify such violence.