Outsiders… Unite!

Steig Larsson creates his main character detectives to be the stereotypical “outsiders” in their society. Larsson sets up his novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,  to have two main characters that are both forced into being outsiders in their society in attempt to make them powerless.

One of his main characters, Mikael Blomkivst, after being exiled from his magazine, Millenium, is taken in by Henrik Vanger. Vanger is one of the oldest of the Vanger family of Vanger Corp. Henrik employs Blomkvist to attempt the unsolved disappearance of his 16 year old niece, Harriet Vanger. Blomkvist is given full access to all of Henrik’s previous research and any other resources he may need to investigate the case.

The novel’s other main character, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, was deemed mentally ill by the state and given a guardian to maintain her life and finances.

Lisbeth eventually teams up with Blomkvist in an effort to solve the Harriet Vanger case.

Both Salander and Blomkvist have been taken out of their positions of power and in a way exiled to Hedeby Island with the Vangers. As a result of the information they are given access to, Salander and Blomkvist are actually put in a position of power rather than being left powerless. In their research, they uncover a lot of dark secrets of the Vanger family, this knowledge is what allows them to be in a position of power.

Eye of Providence

Being an outsider within Neptune High’s social hierarchy gives Veronica Mars a perspective that enables her to be a good detective Her change in social class allows her to gain this new perspective of her surroundings. She was perviously a part of the “in crowd” in her school, however, when her popular, wealthy boyfriend broke up with her and her father was removed as sherif, that all quickly changed. Now, without the popular boyfriend or the important position of her father, Veronica Mars was an outsider.

This change in social classes has allowed Veronica to gain an intimate understanding of all social facets of her school. With this unique perspective she possesses, in addition to being a detective, she is in the position of being an “all seeing eye.” The director of this show makes it clear that this she is intended to be an “all seeing eye” in her world by the carefully chosen logo on the doors to her and her father’s detective office; the eye of providence.

The eye of providence has been used throughout history and even in our own culture today, (on the Great Seal of the United States on the back of the one dollar bill), as the all seeing eye, the eye of God or the eye of the world. The eye is usually used to symbolize someone, or something that is always watching over everything.

The fact that the eye of providence is the logo for Veronica Mars’s detective business is indicative of the fact that her outsider or “watching over” perspective is a big part of what allows her to be a great detective. The usage of the eye also fits in with the theme of her “hobby” as a photographer and making observations. 

Eye of Providence depicted on dollar bill



Wikipedia: Eye of Providence  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_Providence

Begin with Carbon

“How does he do it?”, a phrase often uttered by Sherlock’s audience both on and off the screen whenever he reaches a conclusion from the simplest bit of evidence.

So how does he do it? Holmes observes the small things. He begins with the minute details, then the bigger picture, not the other way around, (much like how we were instructed to write this piece).

Holmes always preaches about observing rather than looking. In the BBC rendition of Sherlock Holmes, the white phrases in tiny font show the viewer what he is looking at and why it’s significant. However, I think the Periodic Table of the Elements hanging on Holmes’ bedroom wall is the most concrete piece of evidence that observing the small elements of a problem is how “he does it.”

The individual elements make up everything on the face of the Earth and out into space. So to understand any of those large things such as a blade of grass, you must look back to it’s smallest components – the carbon atoms it’s made from.

How Does He Do That
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The Periodic Table
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Observation 2
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Observation 3
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Observation 4
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Observation 5
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Observation 6
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Observation 7
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Observation 8


Monkey Wrenched

Deanna Ballard

Professor Kersh



Reaction Paper #2

“…My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey- wrench into the machinery. It’s all right with me, if you’re sure none of the flying pieces will hurt you.” The Maltese Falcon Pg 86

Throughout the beginning chapters of this novel, (pages 3-60)  Sam Spade has been characterized as the typical detective; smart, smooth and very methodical – very much like a well oiled machine. However, in the latter portion of the book, (page 61 on), he has broken from his calm, composed, machine like mold and has become seemingly insane. Spade has began weaving intricate lies, playing games with people and his alliances to them.

I do not think Spade has gone mad or has undergone some behavioral transformation. I believe that this “wild and unpredictable monkey- wrench” of a man he’s become is not actually a transformation, but simply an unveiling of his real personality. Spade puts on this cool, calm, composed persona to gain trust and respect  so he can get away with being the absurd individual he truly is.

This is not to say that Sam Spade is not a brilliant, well oiled machine, every move he makes is very deliberate and calculated, with a clear end goal in mind. His monkey- wrench approach to gathering information has proved to be very effective, as every “flying piece” that has come from his actions have been relevant and helpful to him.

Reaction Paper 1

Deanna Ballard

Professor Kersh



Reaction Paper #1


“She was tall and pliantly slender, without angularity anywhere. Her body was erect and high-breasted, her legs long, her hands and feet narrow. She wore two shades of blue that had been selected because of her eyes. The hair curling from under her blue hat was darkly red, her full lips more brightly red. White teeth glistened in the crescent her timid smile made.” The Maltese Falcon Page 4

Dashiell Hammett uses very vivid, highly descriptive language when introducing his characters. The intense imagery he uses provides the reader with both a very detailed mental image of the character and a few hints about what the character’s personality is like.

In this specific passage, Hammett is introducing Miss Wonderly and describing her physical appearance in great detail, as he always does. This passage stands out not due to  the vivid imagery he uses, but from the sharp contrast to his description of her person, (her build, smile and voice from the previous passage). The description of her person, details about herself that she can not control, paint a picture of a very slight, quiet and potentially shy individual, whereas the description of her appearance, (her clothes, hair and makeup), details about herself that she can control, are very bold and suggest a strong, confident woman.

This sharp contrast between Miss Wonderly’s person and her appearance are indicative of a difference in the person she is on the inside and the person she wants to be viewed as from the outside. The discrepancy she creates implies that she has something to hide or is dishonest. Secrecy ties in nicely with the double murder mystery that is unfolding in front of us and suggests that other “facts” we’ve learned thus far in the story may not be true after all or that there is something else entirely going on.

Later in the story (pg 33), we find out that “Miss Wonderly” is actually Brigid O’Shaughnessy and that she is in fact hiding something. Hammett creating his female character to be this contradictory, dishonest creature was a result of the time this book was written in. This was an era of tension between the sexes; women were taking jobs that used to be done by men. As this progressed, men began to question their masculinity and what it meant to be a real man, so Hammett could not create a strong, trustworthy woman character that would compromise the masculinity of his male characters.