Alfred composes a letter to Hannelore in his mind. He explains his ship has sunk, and he is now stranded on a raft in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Now, he admits, “I have time not only for reflection but for honesty.” He wonders how he ever loved Hannelore after “what you said.” He explains, “fear is a hunter” that traps him and forces him to make decisions. He believes he made the right decision, by trying to help Hannelore, and that she, by rejecting his help, made the wrong one.
Throughout the novel, Alfred has revealed, piece by piece, the extent of his fantasy relationship with Hannelore. Now, close to death, Alfred decides to be honest with himself, and in the same moment begins to disclose the truth behind Hannelore’s story to the reader.