Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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One of the four principal characters and narrators. From the first chapter Sepetys notes that Alfred’s driving emotion is fear: fear of being inferior, fear of rejection. Alfred begins the book as a pompous, if misunderstood German soldier, and as the story progresses reveals himself to be increasingly racist, bigoted, delusional, and possibly psychopathic. He has no friends, and very little loyalty to anyone but himself, and Hitler. Every action he undertakes is to advance himself, and to somehow prove his worth as a “Good German.” He is in love with Hannelore, his former next-door neighbor, to whom all his chapters are addressed. It is later revealed that Alfred reported Hannelore (who was half Jewish) to the Nazi Youth after she rejected his advances. Alfred has a complicated relationship with his parents. His Mutter loves him, but Alfred’s father is ashamed of him, especially after he was rejected from the Hitler Youth, which continues to be a source of shame for Alfred. Alfred remains separate from the other main characters—Emilia, Florian, and Joana—for the first half of the novel, but his storyline intersects with theirs in the town of Gotenhafen, where his ship is stationed, and where they are trying to board a boat and evacuate East Prussia. Alfred becomes instrumental in helping Emilia, Florian, and Joana obtain permission to board the Wilhelm Gustloff. He gets Joana a position as a nurse on board, and gives Florian blank boarding passes, which Florian uses to forge identification papers that will guarantee him passage.

Alfred Frick Quotes in Salt to the Sea

The Salt to the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Alfred Frick or refer to Alfred Frick. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Salt to the Sea published in 2016.
4. Alfred Quotes

Fear is a hunter.

But brave warriors, we brush away fear with a flick of the wrist. We laugh in the face of fear, kick it like a stone across the street. Yes, Hannelore, I compose these letters in my mind first, as I cannot abandon my men as often as I think of you.
You would be proud of your watchful companion, sailor Alfred Frick. Today I saved a young woman from falling into the sea. It was nothing really, but she was so grateful she clung to me, not wanting to let go.
“Thank you, sailor.” Her warm whisper lingered in my ear. She was quite pretty and smelled like fresh eggs, but there have been many grateful and pretty girls. Oh, do not be concerned. You and your red sweater are foremost in my thoughts. How fondly, how incessantly, I think of my Hannelore and red-sweater days.

I’m relived you are not here to see this. Your sugared heart could not bear the treacherous circumstances here in the port of Gotenhafen. At this very moment, I am guarding dangerous explosives. I am serving Germany well. Only seventeen, yet carrying more valor than those twice my years. There is talk of an honor ceremony but I’m too busy fighting for the Führer to accept honors. Honors are for the dead, I’ve told them. We must fight while we are alive!

Yes, Hannelore, I shall prove to all of Germany. There is indeed a hero inside of me.

Related Characters: Alfred Frick (speaker), Hannelore Jäger
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
167. Alfred Quotes

Hitler, he understands my theories. And I, his. Protection of the sick, weak, and inferior is not sensible. That is why I told the Hitler Youth boys about your Jewish father. Do you understand that I was trying to help, Lor? Your mother is not Jewish. I thought surely you would have had sense enough to tell the officers that your mother was a gentile, that you would have aligned yourself to the greater being inside of you.
But you decided otherwise.
And now, years later I am still confused by our final conversation. Do you remember it? I remember it so clearly. I ran out onto the sidewalk as they were taking you away. I told them that half of you was the master race. You stopped in your tracks and whirled to face me.
“No,” you yelled. And then you screamed so very loud.

“I am Jewish!”
Your words echoed between the buildings and bounced down the street.
“I am Jewish!”
I am certain everyone heard your proclamation. It almost sounded like pride. And for some reason those words are now caught, like a hair, in the drain of my mind.
“I am Jewish!”

Related Characters: Alfred Frick (speaker), Hannelore Jäger
Page Number: 358
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Salt to the Sea LitChart as a printable PDF.
Salt to the Sea PDF

Alfred Frick Character Timeline in Salt to the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Alfred Frick appears in Salt to the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
4. Alfred
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred’s chapter begins with a variation of the same phrase that begins the other of the... (full context)
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Alfred’s chapter takes the form of a letter addressed to a woman, Hannelore, who seems to... (full context)
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Alfred ends the letter by telling Hannelore and that he is doing exceptionally well, and might... (full context)
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When the letter ends, Alfred is revealed to be crouching inside a supply closet, hiding from his duties. (full context)
10. Alfred
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Alfred is criticized by a superior for hiding in a supply closet instead of following his... (full context)
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The officer ordering Alfred around calls him a “pathetic slug” when he doesn’t move quickly enough. Alfred immediately begins... (full context)
17. Alfred
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Alfred mentally dictates another letter to his “dear Hannelore.” He tells her a secret: when he... (full context)
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Refugees are beginning to gather at the port, and Alfred observes “Stalin has stolen more than land […] he has stolen human dignity. I see... (full context)
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Alfred tells Hannelore not to fear because although people cannot be trained for situations like these,... (full context)
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After Alfred finishes composing his letter, he is transported back to the real world, where he has... (full context)
22. Alfred
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Alfred is carrying lifejackets over the dock to the Wilhelm Gustloff. As he works he imagines... (full context)
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Alfred prides himself on his self-perceived powers of observation, which he thinks are especially important considering... (full context)
28. Alfred
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Waiting in the harbor, Alfred becomes more anxious. The Allied forces are closing in, and the Germans have organized a... (full context)
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Alfred doesn’t think there will be enough time to register and board hundreds of thousands of... (full context)
38. Alfred
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Alfred writes another imaginary letter to Hannelore. He tells her he has been confirmed to sail... (full context)
43. Alfred
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Alfred composes another letter to Hannelore in his head. He suspects she is thinking of him,... (full context)
48. Alfred
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Walking up and down the Wilhelm Gustloff is too much exercise for Alfred. He often hides to avoid his duty. Still, his superior finds him and orders him... (full context)
52. Alfred
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Alfred composes another letter to Hannelore. He briefly mentions the war effort but then turns his... (full context)
57. Alfred
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Alfred composes another mental letter to Hannelore in his head. He tells her how crowded it... (full context)
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Alfred admits he might sound “hostile, but this is war,” a numbers game. Alfred shares his... (full context)
61. Alfred
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Alfred has been assigned to the ship’s sundeck, which has been converted into a maternity ward.... (full context)
64. Alfred
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Alfred writes another mental letter to Hannelore. He tells her how he has marked a functioning... (full context)
68. Alfred
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Alfred writes to Hannelore. He complains about the ugliness he is forced to look at — the... (full context)
70. Alfred
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Alfred reads a letter his mother sent him two months ago. She tells him she is... (full context)
72. Alfred
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Alfred writes another mental letter to Hannelore. He remembers the Hitler Youth coming to visit him... (full context)
73. Joana
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...my belongings and I need a ship.” At this moment Joana looks down and sees Alfred Frick digging through a pile of luggage for valuables. (full context)
74. Florian
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Florian eavesdrops on Joana and Alfred’s conversation. Joana asks where registration begins and Alfred gestures towards the ships. Joana notices his... (full context)
75. Alfred
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Alfred feels “the fates of fortune had found me.” He brings Joana to the ship’s doctor,... (full context)
76. Joana
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Joana grabs Alfred before he walks off and tells him that the group she has been traveling with... (full context)
77. Emilia
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...me?” Still, she recognizes Joana was chosen for a special task. As she walks with Alfred and the rest of the group, she notices him kick a stray dog. She immediately... (full context)
78. Florian
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Alfred draws attention to the group by ushering other refugees out of the way and announcing... (full context)
79. Alfred
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Alfred fully believes Florian’s story. He is proud to help him, but has forgotten his promise... (full context)
81. Emilia
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...by Joana and Florian, her “knight.” However, she still has Eva, the Poet, and Klaus. Alfred leads Emilia to the front of a long line of refugees, against the protests of... (full context)
82. Florian
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Back at the movie house, Florian worries that he misjudged Alfred, and that the soldier will not return to him. Florian thinks of Dr. Lange, whom... (full context)
83. Emilia
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Alfred insists Emilia show the inspectors her papers. She freezes. The papers aren’t hers and she... (full context)
84. Alfred
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Alfred composes another mental letter to Hannelore. He explains how he found a nurse for Dr.... (full context)
87. Florian
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Florian waits impatiently for Alfred to arrive. He also wonders about Joana, and whether she will come for him. Florian... (full context)
88. Alfred
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Alfred is assigned to collect life vests and floats. The task gives him the chance to... (full context)
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Alfred brings Florian a blank boarding pass and wonders how he will use it to get... (full context)
89. Joana
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...received boarding passes. Emilia is waiting for Joana in the movie theatre. As they talk, Alfred finds them, and announces that Florian “needs” Joana. Confused, she goes to find him.   (full context)
91. Alfred
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Alfred narrates another letter to Hannelore. He reminds her that the Wilhelm Gustloff was built as... (full context)
95. Alfred
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Alfred writes another letter to Hannelore. He tells her the temperature is below freezing outside. He... (full context)
99. Alfred
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As the temperature drops, Alfred decides it’s too cold for him to do his job (collecting life vests and floats). Instead,... (full context)
101. Joana
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Alfred comes into the infirmary and Joana sends him to get Dr. Richter. However, the doctor... (full context)
108. Joana
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Alfred comes to speak to Joana. She assumes he needs help with his hands, but instead... (full context)
110. Alfred
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Alfred walks through the ship. Joana had asked him to keep a lookout for Florian, and... (full context)
111. Joana
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Joana tries to hold Emilia’s baby near her and inspire some sense of motherly love. Alfred, who has brought Florian, distracts her. She has him lay on a cot and takes... (full context)
115. Alfred
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Alfred composes another letter to Hannelore. He tells her he feels his friendship with Florian has... (full context)
117. Florian
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Florian hides away in the hollow chimney in the center of the ship. Alfred comes in with news that a group of female naval auxiliaries are being housed in... (full context)
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Florian asks Alfred if his Mutter loved the Hitler. Defensively, Alfred points out “We all love the Führer... (full context)
120. Alfred
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Alfred writes another letter to Hannelore. He relays his conversation with Florian. He confesses his occasional... (full context)
121. Florian
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Alfred interrupts his thoughts with a meal delivery. He tells Florian the ship will depart soon.... (full context)
122. Joana
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...and wonders how much she owes to Germany, and whether she should turn him in. Alfred comes to fetch Joana once again, and they navigate the ship together. Although only built... (full context)
127. Alfred
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Alfred spends the early morning spying on the women who have been housed in the drained... (full context)
130. Alfred
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Alfred writes another letter to Hannelore. He tells her the ship finally departed, at ten times... (full context)
133. Alfred
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Seasick, Alfred tries to check himself into the infirmary. The injured soldiers there mock him, and the... (full context)
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Alfred composes another mental letter to Hannelore. He remembers playing on the same team as her... (full context)
137. Alfred
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Still seasick, Alfred collapses in the music room. When a little girl laughs at him, he tears the... (full context)
141. Alfred
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Twenty-five nautical miles offshore, the ship is hit by something. Alfred can tell the ship is listing. Its nose is sinking.  (full context)
145. Alfred
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...sailor running through the ship instructs everyone to put on their life vests. He tells Alfred Russian submarines have hit the ship. The floor of the ship begins to tip, and... (full context)
148. Alfred
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Alfred runs along the corridor, ignoring cries for help, and stealing a coat from a woman... (full context)
152. Alfred
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Alfred makes it to the deck. Passengers are crying for help and looking to him, but... (full context)
153. Florian
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...in until Florian gets in and carries her baby down. Florian leaves his pack with Alfred so he can more easily carry Halinka down the ladder into the boat. The sailor... (full context)
155. Alfred
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Alfred is frozen on the deck — the lifeboats are gone, and he is too afraid to... (full context)
160. Alfred
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This chapter is only two sentences. Alfred thinks, “Bodies strewn like human confetti. Would I still get my medal?”  (full context)
163. Emilia
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Emilia takes the pack from Alfred, who is vomiting over the side of the raft. She considers how she has Florian’s... (full context)
164. Alfred
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Alfred composes a letter to Hannelore in his mind. He explains his ship has sunk, and... (full context)
167. Alfred
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Alfred writes a final mental letter to Hannelore. He remembers their last interactions. He had tired... (full context)
168. Emilia
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Emilia doesn’t think she can make it to sunrise. Alfred, delirious from the cold keeps talking to her and calling her Hannelore. He keeps repeating... (full context)
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Alfred jumps to his feat, but as he does so he slips, hiding his head against... (full context)