Alfred’s chapter begins with a variation of the same phrase that begins the other of the first four chapters: “Fear is a hunter.”
Alfred’s chapter takes the form of a letter addressed to a woman, Hannelore, who seems to be his lover back home. He mentally composes these letters throughout the novel, but never writes them down or sends them. A sailor fighting for Germany, Alfred tells Hannelore about his bravery, about his military accomplishments, his dangerous job, and his recent rescue of a beautiful young woman. He tells Hannelore he remembers her well and thinks of her often.
Alfred spends much of the novel inside his own fantasies. These letters to Hannelore, which he never transcribes and never sends, portray a fictionalized version of his life. In it, he is important and valued. He is everything that he is not in real life, and he has everything that he so deeply desires, including love and respect.
Alfred ends the letter by telling Hannelore and that he is doing exceptionally well, and might soon receive an honor for his service. He believes “There is indeed a hero inside of me.”
Another aspect of Alfred’s fantasy involves the idea that he is completing a hero’s journey. In this fantasy, he is the protagonist of an epic adventure, waiting for a chance to prove his heroism.
When the letter ends, Alfred is revealed to be crouching inside a supply closet, hiding from his duties.
Alfred’s fantasies contrast starkly with his real life, where he is a low-ranking grunt with few responsibilities, little respect, and even less courage.