Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea: 17. Alfred Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alfred mentally dictates another letter to his “dear Hannelore.” He tells her a secret: when he lived in the building next to her back in Heidelberg he would spy on her through his bathroom window. He is excited for his upcoming naval “adventure.”
Once again, Alfred mentally abandons his underwhelming and often actively unpleasant reality for his fantasy life where his military service is an “adventure” as opposed to drudgery.
Themes
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Refugees are beginning to gather at the port, and Alfred observes “Stalin has stolen more than land […] he has stolen human dignity. I see it in their forlorn eyes and broken posture. It’s all the fault of the Communists. They are animals.”
Alfred has entirely bought into the Nazi ideology, and sees himself in contrast to those unlike him, like the communist Soviet forces, entirely ignoring the ways in which the Nazi regime has failed its civilians and “stolen the human dignity” of the people under its rule.
Themes
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred tells Hannelore not to fear because although people cannot be trained for situations like these, luckily he was “born for them.”
In his fantasies, Alfred sees himself as a hero destined for greatness since birth.
Themes
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
After Alfred finishes composing his letter, he is transported back to the real world, where he has yet to write a letter home to his Mutter. He beings to read his copy of Mein Kampf.
Although Alfred resists forming any kind of fraternal bond with his fellow soldiers, or even maintaining his relationship with his family, he finds solace in Adolf Hitler’s screeds of German racial supremacy.
Themes
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
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