Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea: 39. Florian Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Florian watches the refugees from a corner. Klaus has found a gramophone and is playing a song by Swedish singer Zarah Leander, over and over. Eva and the Poet are dancing together. It reminds Florian of easier times.
Watching the makeshift family the refugees have created makes Florian think back to his own family. In the recent past, he has been focused on his mission, and hasn’t had time to form friendships or interpersonal connections.
Themes
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Joana brings Florian some soup and they discuss the song. It’s in German and Joana doesn’t entirely understand the lyrics. Florian tells her the woman is singing, “It’s not the end of the world.” Joana tells Florian about another song she knows, “Lili Marleen,” about a soldier who meets a girl under a lamppost, and later, by lantern light during the war, he thinks of her. 
Florian begins to open up to another person for the first time in the novel. Although he has treated Emilia kindly before, which represented a kind of progress, here he is having a friendly conversation for the first time. The song Lili Marleen will appear again in the novel, symbolizing lovers separated by fate.
Themes
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
The Poet invites Joana to dance and Florian watches and thinks back to his time with Dr. Lange. He wonders why, although he was an expert at detecting flaws and forgeries in paintings, he couldn’t see the way Dr. Lange was manipulating him.
Florian feels guilty that he was such a bad judge of character, and that he opened himself emotionally to someone who did not like or respect him. 
Themes
Memory and Survival  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Florian gets up to go to the bathroom. He takes his pack with him. Joana suggests he leave it but Florian refuses. As he walks across the room the Poet stops him. The Poet has noticed Florian’s hollow left heel, which hides something secret. The Poet observes, “The shoes tell a story.” 
Florian still doesn’t trust the refugees, even if he is willing to spend the night with them. The perceptive Poet demonstrates that his catchphrase “the shoes tell a story” has some truth to it. Although Florian has done his best to reveal no personal details (not even his name), the Poet has deduced an intimate fact about him.  
Themes
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
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