Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea: 100. Emilia Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Joana falls asleep quickly, but Emilia is kept awake with the pain of contractions. She sings “All the little duckies” to herself, but it cannot keep pain, and painful memories, from flooding her mind. She remembers sitting on the floor outside of her mother’s room as her mother went into labor, and remembers the midwife coming out and telling her that her mother had died.
Emilia’s nursery rhyme occasionally helps soothe her and prevent her from dwelling on painful moments from the past, but as the physical pain of labor overtakes her she is unable to stop the memories. 
Themes
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Emilia believes her mother is with her now, and asks, in Polish, “I’m going to die now, aren’t I, Mama?” Joana wakes up when she hears Emilia speak, and helps sit her up in bed, which Joana takes as confirmation that she will die. However, she thinks, “Unlike Mama, I would not go to heaven. My secrets padlocked the gates.”
Emilia remains connected to her mother even though her mother has died. She feels especially close to her mother in this moment because Emilia fears that she, like her mother, will die in childbirth.
Themes
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Emilia is suddenly wracked with intense pain. Joana becomes busy preparing Emilia to give birth, and urges her to think of August. Not wanting to die with a guilty conscience, Emilia reveals, through tears, “There is no August.”
Joana has believed Emilia’s fantasy about August, whom Emilia claimed to be her child’s father. In reality, although August did exist, he did not father her child. This was a lie Emilia constructed so she did not have to dwell on the painful truth.
Themes
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon