Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

by

Ruta Sepetys

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Hannelore Jäger Character Analysis

A German girl who lived next door to Alfred Frick. She never appears during the novel; instead, Alfred composes numerous letters to her, and often revisits his memories of her. In the final chapters, Hannelore is revealed to be half Jewish, a fact Alfred exploited by turning her in to the Nazis when she spurned him. Although she is only viewed through Alfred’s eyes, Hannelore seems principled, self-possessed, and proud of her Jewish heritage.

Hannelore Jäger Quotes in Salt to the Sea

The Salt to the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Hannelore Jäger or refer to Hannelore Jäger. 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

Hannelore Jäger Character Timeline in Salt to the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Hannelore Jäger appears in Salt to the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
4. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred ends the letter by telling Hannelore and that he is doing exceptionally well, and might soon receive an honor for his... (full context)
10. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
...slug” when he doesn’t move quickly enough. Alfred immediately begins to compose another letter to Hannelore in his mind, telling her how good he looks in his uniform, and how he... (full context)
17. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred mentally dictates another letter to his “dear Hannelore.” He tells her a secret: when he lived in the building next to her back... (full context)
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred tells Hannelore not to fear because although people cannot be trained for situations like these, luckily he... (full context)
28. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
...selecting which refugees will be allowed to evacuate. He begins to compose a letter to Hannelore in his head, telling her “I have been selected for a very important mission to... (full context)
38. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred writes another imaginary letter to Hannelore. He tells her he has been confirmed to sail on the Wilhelm Gustloff. He claims... (full context)
43. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred composes another letter to Hannelore in his head. He suspects she is thinking of him, just as he is thinking... (full context)
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
He ominously remembers how he used to watch Hannelore through her window. It was as he watched her that “duty called and I made... (full context)
48. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
...clear furniture from a ballroom for refugees. He looks at the dance floor and imagines Hannelore dancing as he often observed through the window, but admits to himself that she “might... (full context)
52. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred composes another letter to Hannelore. He briefly mentions the war effort but then turns his attention to the Wilhelm Gustloff.... (full context)
57. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred composes another mental letter to Hannelore in his head. He tells her how crowded it is getting at the port. He... (full context)
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
...this is war,” a numbers game. Alfred shares his military number, 42089. He wonders if Hannelore has a number. (full context)
64. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred writes another mental letter to Hannelore. He tells her how he has marked a functioning toilet as inoperable so that he... (full context)
68. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred writes to Hannelore. He complains about the ugliness he is forced to look at — the horror of the... (full context)
70. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...months ago. She tells him she is worried because he has not written her anything. Hannelore’s house is empty, and Mutter suspects Alfred always liked Hannelore. She wonders if he has... (full context)
72. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred writes another mental letter to Hannelore. He remembers the Hitler Youth coming to visit him and then visit Hannelore next door.... (full context)
84. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred composes another mental letter to Hannelore. He explains how he found a nurse for Dr. Richter, and helped Emilia and her... (full context)
91. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred narrates another letter to Hannelore. He reminds her that the Wilhelm Gustloff was built as a leisure vessel for the... (full context)
95. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred writes another letter to Hannelore. He tells her the temperature is below freezing outside. He tells her about the sacrifices... (full context)
115. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred composes another letter to Hannelore. He tells her he feels his friendship with Florian has developed. He also tells her... (full context)
120. Alfred
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred writes another letter to Hannelore. He relays his conversation with Florian. He confesses his occasional sympathy “for those who are... (full context)
130. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred writes another letter to Hannelore. He tells her the ship finally departed, at ten times carrying capacity. He tells her... (full context)
133. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred composes another mental letter to Hannelore. He remembers playing on the same team as her once, during a game in the... (full context)
164. Alfred
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Alfred composes a letter to Hannelore in his mind. He explains his ship has sunk, and he is now stranded on... (full context)
167. Alfred
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
Alfred writes a final mental letter to Hannelore. He remembers their last interactions. He had tired to tell her about Hitler’s theories on... (full context)
168. Emilia
Agency, Willpower, and Fate Theme Icon
Storytelling and Fantasy  Theme Icon
Family and Community vs. Selfishness  Theme Icon
...it to sunrise. Alfred, delirious from the cold keeps talking to her and calling her Hannelore. He keeps repeating the word “Jewish.” He tries to take the pack from Emilia, complaining... (full context)