Taking away a person’s control of her own life—meaning her bank account—is one of the greatest infringements a democracy can impose, especially when it applies to a young person.

This passage from Chapter 12, which directly follows the account of Salander’s sexual assault, critiques the guardianship system in Sweden as well as the way it promotes corrupt, predatory behavior. In particular, the narrator notes that the guardianship itself is an unwanted governmental imposition into private life. Salander’s life exemplifies this problem perfectly. Because of the way Salander looks and acts, the court misjudges her mental state and intellectual ability, though in reality she remains perfectly independent and able to take care of herself. But the court nonetheless imposes its judgment and essentially gives someone control over her, disempowering her and essentially making her captive to the whims of her guardian. Consequently, the difference between her treatment at the hands of her first and second guardians only indicates how dangerous a system dependent on the good nature of men can be. Because the court system is fallible, the guardianship can damage the vulnerable and the young, and Salander’s constant clashes with this system illustrate both her independent nature and the way in which a guardianship limits a person’s independence.

Also evident in this quote is the idea that economic control relates directly to an individual’s ability to control his or her own life. Because Salander exists under a guardianship that prohibits direct access to her finances, she essentially possesses no freedom or independence. Even her simplest needs cannot be met without prior permission. Salander’s rape proceeds from this situation and occurs as a direct result of her lack of economic autonomy. Since Bjurman controls her finances, he controls Salander’s choices and her body. As a result, Salander goes to any means to regain her financial independence and control over her own life, including her attack on Bjurman and her theft of a significant amount of money from Wennerström’s offshore bank accounts.