Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea


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Salt to the Sea: 44. Joana Summary & Analysis

Joana wonders where all the refugees came from. She wants to help people but there are too many and the scene is too chaotic. Eva asks people where they’ve come from and finds a Lithuanian woman. When Joana asks about her home the old woman says, “Our poor Lietuva […] we shall never see her again.” Joana doesn’t understand. She assumes when the war is over everyone will be able to go home. Joana thinks back to the song she listened to last night, which said, “It’s not the end of the world.” She hopes this is true.
Joana loves and misses her homeland, and is motivated by the belief that she will be able to return to Lithuania where she will be reunited with her family. Although she does not know this yet, after the war, Germany will be split in two, and the Soviet Union and its new holdings, including Lithuania, will wall itself off from the rest of the world. If she continues her journey west, she will be cut off from her homeland indefinitely.
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Joana and Florian discuss the future — they decide to march across the ice at night, when it will be stronger. Florian criticizes those whom he feels have brought too many belongings. Joana points out that “it’s all they have left.” 
Florian um-empathetically criticizes refugees with too many belongings. He doesn’t consider the ways in which physical objects can hold important memories.
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Florian suddenly realizes Emilia has no papers. All civilians are required to carry identification documents, including “name, photograph, nationality, race, birth, and family details.” Joana darkly observes, “Our papers determined our fate,” and “no papers, no future.”
A person’s papers determine how the government interprets their identity, and in Nazi Germany a person’s identity determines their future. Unfortunately for Emilia, even if she did have papers, they would announce her Polish identity, and would be a death sentence. 
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