Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea: 168. Emilia Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Emilia doesn’t think she can make it to sunrise. Alfred, delirious from the cold keeps talking to her and calling her Hannelore. He keeps repeating the word “Jewish.” He tries to take the pack from Emilia, complaining that she’s stolen his medal. She shouts at him, accidentally speaking Polish. Alfred is angry to realize she has tricked him by pretending to be Latvian, but Emilia, suddenly brave, asserts, “I am Polish!” Alfred declares he will serve his country like a “hero.” He says “Einer winger,” or one less, and tries to push Emilia into the water as he sings his song about groups Hitler has proclaimed inferior
Alfred has begun to confuse his fantasies and about Hannelore with reality. Although he is beginning to lose his mind, he holds on to his anti-Semitism, as well as his desire to be recognized by the Nazi Party as the hero he imagines himself to be. Emilia is sick of being treated poorly for being Polish, and so proudly asserts her identity, just like Hannelore did. This is triggering for the already unstable Alfred, which is presumably why he lashes out and tries to kill her.
Themes
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred jumps to his feat, but as he does so he slips, hiding his head against the raft. He gets up but is unsteady. Emilia reaches to help him, but he jerks away, falling into the water. Emilia is alone. She can feel herself dying, but she feels relaxed. She sees a light coming towards her.
Even when facing down a man who wants to kill her, Emilia remains empathetic and caring. She tries to save Alfred even though he would not do the same. He dies because he refuses to accept her help—because he has internalized the Nazi ideology of his own racial superiority.  
Themes
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon