Blomkvist’s relationship with Erika Berger, meanwhile, exemplifies a shift away from the concept of a traditional family. Blomkvist’s divorce and Berger’s open marriage both progress civilly and without apparent tension or acrimony, despite the sexual nature of the affairs that affect both. This freedom from interfamily bickering and social obligation permits them the unique chance to create a nontraditional relationship that privileges love, respect, and sexual pleasure over the more traditional commitments of fidelity and family. In many ways, however, Millennium serves as their child and the crown jewel of their joint interests and desires, and profoundly signifies the entwined progressive and professional nature of their relationship. By contrast, the Vanger clan, rife with dysfunction, clannishness, and tangled relationships, seems almost astonishingly old-fashioned and appears to be a dynasty in which marriage, children, and wealth define success and accomplishment.
Notably, these chapters show two very different examples of powerful women in the form of Berger and Salander. Berger’s assertive nature reflects the considerable influence she wields, and the way she addresses her relationship with Blomkvist and the dire situation at Millennium speaks to her comfort in a leadership role. Additionally, Berger’s open relationship with her husband and the way she indulges her sexual relationship with Blomkvist at will define the depth and breadth of the power she holds in both her personal and professional careers. A defiant woman with a strong will, Berger accumulates power openly and uses it freely, and receives very little in the way of narrative punishment for doing so. By contrast, Salander has to operate and use her influence furtively. Her use of subterfuge to scope out Wennerström’s apartment and her cryptic relationship with Plague define Salander as a woman who operates from the shadows and whose power depends not on her audacity and professional advancement, but rather on her stealth and cunning.