Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea


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Salt to the Sea: 3. Emilia Summary & Analysis

Emilia’s chapter begins with a variation of the same phrase that begins the other of the first four chapters: “Shame is a hunter.”
The survivor of multiple atrocities—chief among them, readers will later discover, is her rape at the hands of Soviet soldiers—Emilia unnecessarily feels shame because of the horrors that have been committed against her.
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Cold and exhausted, Emilia hides in a potato cellar. Frozen by the January cold, she closes her eyes and thinks of August.
In the text, the word August seems to refer to the month, however, later in the novel Emilia reveals that August is a family friend. However, like the idea of a summer month, his memory of this friend provides her with emotional warmth and comfort.
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A Russian soldier interrupts Emilia’s rest. He asks her how old she is. She tells him she’s fifteen. She tries to explain she isn’t German, but he points his gun at her anyway and begins to pull her towards him. She puts her hands across her stomach and asks him to shoot her rather than rape her, as she fears he intends to do. This chapter, like chapters 1, 2, and 4, ends with the “Bang” of a gunshot.
The book repeatedly highlights the ways in which individuals’ ethnicities and nationalities affect how others treat them. Emilia, for instance, assumes the Russian soldier wants to hurt her because he thinks she is German, and therefore his enemy. However, she is Polish, and although this does not technically make her a Soviet ally, it means she and the soldier share an enemy in Nazi Germany.
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