Salt to the Sea: Important quotes with page
1. “Guilt is a hunter. My conscience mocked me, picking fights like a petulant child. ” (Page 1) These are the first lines of the book and Joana’s opening narrative. Joana’s guilt plagues her throughout the novel, and it also motivates her to help others. The idea that the mind hunts those with secrets is a theme that plays out throughout the novel.
2. “Fate is a hunter. ” (Page 3) These words open Florian’s first section and assert the idea that destiny stalks us. The hunter motif is seen throughout the novel—and “the hunt,” as a metaphor for war, provides an explanation for the loss of humanity in both the hunters and hunted.
3. “Fear is a hunter. ” (Page 7) This is the first line of Alfred’s opening section. Like Hitler, Alfred is a coward, who allows his own fear to destroy his sense of reality and render him capable of causing great harm to others. Alfred’s fear is so great, it manifests in a rash on his hands.
4. “Shame is a hunter. ” (Page 5) Shame plagues Emilia and also drives her forward. When she finally releases it, she is free to become a truly loving mother and die in peace.
5. “There is indeed a hero inside of me. ” (Page 8) This is the closing line to Alfred’s first letter to his “girlfriend” Hannelore. This line speaks a universal truth that can be seen in the mainand supporting characters, except, ironically, for Alfred himself, who shrinks from opportunities to grow both in his personal and professional life.
6. “Hitler was a coward. ” (Page 15) Florian says this is the one thing that he and his late father both agreed upon. This cowardice and the diabolical thinking and behavior associated with Hitler is acted out through Alfred, who is controlled by fear and never musters the courage to face it.
7. “No one wanted to fall into the hands of the enemy. But it was getting harder to distinguish who the enemy was.” (Page 21) This is an observation Joana makes after considering the devastating years between 1941 and 1945. During this time, Hitler and Stalin committed countless acts of inhumanity and radically reduced the quality of life in many countries; in turn, the citizens of the region, consumed by fear and desperation, often became agents of warfare themselves, turning on their own friends and neighbors. Trustworthy allies were hard to come by for everyone, regardless of nationality or affiliation.
8. “If the evacuation failed and the ports were bombed, more than half amillion people would die.” (Page 66) As the refugees flock to Gotenhafen, Alfred observes the vast potential for catastrophe, foreshadowing the sinking of the Gustloff, the biggestmaritime tragedy of all time,resulting in a loss of approximately nine thousand lives, most of whom were children.
9. “What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us? ” (Page 79) After discovering Emilia is pregnant, Florian considers why so many people have lost connection with their own humanity and committed acts of atrocity in the wake of the war. His questioning also reveals his general disillusionment and lack of faith in people, which is a direct result of his relationship with Dr. Lange, who used him to restore stolen art for the Nazis.
10. “The images were so peaceful, so perfect, that I soon fell asleep. ”(Page 83) Emilia thinks constantly of Poland, of home, of family. For all of the characters, memories can be a source of comfort and escape that enables them to endure great suffering and continue living, even under the bleakest conditions.
11. “If I could detect a flawed painting so quickly, why had it taken me so long to see the truth about Dr. Lange? ”(Page 88) Florian’s painful but necessary maturation process requires him to reflect on his own actions and to understand why he was unable to see that Dr. Lange was using him, as his father had said. Florian’s ability to hold himself accountable for his behavior takes courage and sets him apart from many of his peers, especially Alfred, who allows himself to be totally brainwashed by Nazi propaganda and refuses to evaluate any of his choices.
12. “Our papers determined our fate. ” (Page 104) Joana considers the injustice of the system that deemed some worthy of belonging in the world and others undeserving of life. This quote points to Joana’s compassion for others, as she realizes her security as a “legitimate” refugee is arbitrary and that the people she cares about, such as Emilia, are not granted the same security merely on the basis of prejudice.
13. “Birds squawked overhead, issuing a warning. ” (Page 113) Sound is a motif that repeats throughout the novel. The sounds of guns, birds, planes, and bombs all signal the proximity of danger. Sound is a unifying aspect of the characters’ experience. In this example, the birds are portrayed as protective allies who offer guidance to the evacuees and remind us that the natural goodness of the world has not been destroyed by the war.
14. “The Gustloff only had twelve lifeboats. The other ten were missing. ”(Page123) Throughout the novel, Alfred remains delusional regarding his position in the army and his personal life. However, one thing he does well is document the events leading up to the sinking of the Gustloff. His observations often foreshadow the fate of the ship and its passengers and provide a detailed historical account. This quote shows that, in the event of a maritime disaster, there was little chance for survival given the ship took on over ten thousand passengers, surpassing its official capacity of less than fifteen hundred.
15. “The sound of children screaming, wood splintering, and life departing roared from behind. ” (Page 111) Refugees were repeatedly terrorized by unexpected military attacks en route to the port and constantly exposed to traumatic events, such as watching friends and fellow evacuees die suddenly along the road. Sound, an important motif in the novel, brings this terrifying scene to life.
16. “But for a brief moment I saw him, the real man inside of him, not the one tortured by secrets and pain. ”(Page 155) Emilia observes Florian in a way none of the others do. She sees his strength and his struggle and also his kind heart. Eventually, Florian becomes for everyone the man Emilia perceives him to be.
17. “I realized that telling the truth might be the ammunition I needed. ” (Page 169) So observes Florian when in he is trying to learn more about Joana, with whom he is hesitant to reveal his secrets. This quote also points to the significant theme of truth, though it appears here that Florian is using truth as a weapon to win Joana over. Ultimately, sharing the truth about themselves saves Florian, Joana, and Emilia.
18. “People wandered, looking constantly to the sky in fear of the Black Death. ” (Page 184) Florian is overwhelmed by the chaotic scene when they arrive at the port of Gutenhafen. For the refugees, there was no escaping the threat of death, and constant fear had reduced people to living in a state of survival in which it was often impossible to think of anything but saving oneself.
19. “The Wilhelm Gustloff was pregnant with lost souls conceived of war. ” (Page218) Emilia personifies the ship as a mother who, like herself, is pregnant with a child of warfare. This observation casts a dark shadow on the ship, whose passengers she perceives as doomed. Given that more than ten thousand refugees boarded the ship, this quote also acts as an homage to the vast number of children born as a result of rape during the war.
20. “Did she remember the trail my heels carved in the dirt as they dragged me across the yard? Did my screams echo in her head as they did in mine? ” (Page 289) Emilia remembers the dayAugust and Else’smother offered her to the Russians to save Else and indicates that she is still understandably traumatized. This passage shows how Sepetys uses details to paint a vivid and horrifying picture that allows the reader to experience the memories that root the characters to their past.
21. “I wanted to say something to comfort her, but I wasn’t good at this kind of thing. ” (Page 310) Florian desires Joana but is unskilled in intimacy. Importantly, the relationship between Joana and Florian allows him to fulfill his longing for intimacy and make the rite of passage to manhood.
22. “I picked up a life vest near the feet of the mangled girl. I slipped it over my head. ” (Page 322) Alfred shows how disconnected from his own humanity he has become. After watching a little girl holding a stuffed bear get crushed by a piano, his response is to ignore the horror and panic around him and think only of himself.
23. “They beat at the teenager’s fingers until he released his grip and slipped beneath the surface with a few small bubbles. ”(Page 340) Emilia observes this hideous scene—and worse—after she miraculously makes it onto a raft with Alfred. Overcome with fear and desperate to survive, many of those who make it into the lifeboats refuse to help others who arenot asfortunate. This quote is one of many examples of how war brings out the very worst in people.
24. “More than ten thousand people had been on board the Gustloff. The gruesome details of the sinking would be reported in every world newspaper. The tragedy would be studied for years, become legendary. ” (Page 356) The sinking of the Gustloff is the largest maritime tragedy of all time, yet the story of this disaster is little known. Initially, the Germans downplayed it to avoid scaring people. After the war, Germany minimized the tremendous loss of life on the ship.
25. “War is catastrophe. It breaks families into irretrievable pieces. But those who are gone are not necessarily lost. ”(Page 378) This insight comes from Clara Christensen, the kind woman whose husband discovered Emilia’s raft and her frozen dead body on their beach in Denmark, in February 1945, a month after the Gustloff sank. Clara’s comforting words end the tragic story on a heartfelt and hopeful note that reinforces the themes of family and memory, which ultimately hold the characters together throughout their harrowing journey andenable them to create a new family in the wake of tragedy.