Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea: 14. Joana Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Florian and Emilia make Joana nervous. She knows Eva speaks a little Polish and so asks her to talk to Emilia. Both Joana and Eva are suspicious of Florian, who is the right age to be in the army but is wearing civilian clothes.  Joana makes the rounds, tending to the wounded. The Poet encourages her to “Make sure to treat their feet or all is lost.”
Although more open-minded than many of her fellow travelers, Joana nonetheless privileges the wellbeing of those she knows over the wellbeing of strangers. Still, she feels obligated to treat the wounded regardless of her suspicion.
Themes
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Eva reports back that Emilia has no papers but is Polish, and that she grew up in Lwów (a region of Poland in which people are sometimes blonde and blue-eyed like Emilia, which might have protected her from the Nazis). However, Emilia was sent to Nemmersdorf, which Soviet forces massacred just under a year ago. Eva and Joana wonder what kind of horrors Emilia has seen or experienced.
At this point in the war, a person’s papers are essential to their safety and survival. German checkpoints along the road require individuals to show their papers. If a person is designated as undesirable, they will be arrested or killed. In this way, the absence of papers, or the wrong information on a person’s papers, can be a death sentence.
Themes
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Joana feels pity for Emilia, and understands that the extermination of Polish girls is “to make room for ‘Baltic Germans,’” like Joana. Eva thinks that Emilia is a threat to the group because she is Polish. Joana pushes back that she herself is only half German on her mother’s side, and that she is “sick of hearing the phrase German Only.” She insists they help Emilia. Furthermore, Emilia reminds Joana of someone. This causes Joana thinks to herself, “it’s all your fault.” 
Joana feels solidarity with Emilia. Although they come from different backgrounds, Joana feels guilty that Emilia has suffered so much because she has been unfairly designated “undesirable” by the Nazis, whereas she, Joana, has not only been tolerated but even allowed to repatriate. Emilia also reminds Joana of a family member, which further motivates her to help Emilia.
Themes
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
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