Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea


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Salt to the Sea: 131. Emilia Summary & Analysis

Emilia is nauseated by the motion of the ship. She is shocked she is still alive. She notes, “I hadn’t planned for this. I was certain the birthing would kill both of us, just as it had Mama.” She wonders if she has misread the signs. Six years ago, after her mother had died, Emilia took part in Saint John’s Night, a festival on the summer solstice. As was tradition, she made a wreath of flowers and candles and launched it on the river. Legend has it that the boy who catches your wreath will marry you, but Emilia’s wreath became snagged on something in the river, caught on fire, and sank.  
Throughout the novel, Emilia has anticipated her own imminent death. Here, she reveals that her superstition was born out of two distinct events: the death of her own mother in childbirth, and the sinking of her wreath. Emilia’s wreath symbolized her life and her future, and so the fact that it both burned and sank implied that she would never marry.  
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Related Quotes
Emilia feels that “something changed when the knight arrived.” For the first time in a long time, people have cared for and protected her. Emilia looks down at her daughter, who is, like Florian said, “part of me, my family and Poland.” She wonders if her troubles are over.
Having survived childbirth, Emilia feels she may have beaten her curse. After having been on her own for so long, the idea of Florian as her personal savior, as well as her new baby, which represents a brighter future both for her and Poland, makes her optimistic.
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