Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea


Ruta Sepetys

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Salt to the Sea can help.

Salt to the Sea: 86. Emilia Summary & Analysis

Emilia lists dates in her mind. “On September 1, 1939,  Germany invaded Poland from the west. On September 17, 1939, Russia invaded Poland from the east.” The Nazis sent Polish people to “ghettos and concentration camps,” and the Soviets sent them to “gulags and Siberia.” Although Emilia has learned to stay quiet and keep secrets inside, she wonders, “how long could I play this game?” with war “both outside and inside.”  She wonders if Germany will be safe for her, and, when the war is over, “which side would be the right side for a Pole?”
Much of Emilia’s life has been affected by the wars around her, and by the Nazi’s treatment of her entire ethnic group. Because Polish people were seen as subhuman, she was forced to flee Poland in order to survive. Now, she has no sense if Polish people will ever be allowed to live freely again. She also hints at the traumas of her past when she refers to war “outside and inside.” Often this trauma is concealed behind the fantasy of her “fiancé” August, but here she allows the truth to peek through.
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon