Number the Stars

Lois Lowry

Summary

In 1943, during the holocuast, two Danish (One Jewish, one not) families have to survive during the hard times. The story revolves mostly around a 10 year-old girl named Annemarie who lived in Copenhagen, Denmark. She and her family are not Jewish, but their best friends on the other hand, are. The nazis are starting to crack the whip around Denmark, and times are getting even harder. Annemarie's best friend, Ellen A.K.A. Lise, has to split up from her family to pose as Annemarie's dead sister (Lise) so her identity would not be revealed to the nazis. Throughout the story, the family's (and Lise) objective is to help set the Jewish people free to Sweden where the nazis have not conquered. They come up with a plan to hide the Jewish people in a boat when things take a turn for the worst. Annemarie grows up in this story, having to learn responsibility and that sometimes, you just have to be brave.

Theme

I think the theme of Number the Stars would be about being brave and never giving up hope. I say this because Annemarie has to step up and be brave, even in the hardest of times. The same goes for others too. With the awful treatment from the nazis, and bad food rationing, the family's have to hide, make sacrifices, and be brave for one another. Throughout the story, none of them give in, and crack, even when the nazis came in and interrogated their family in the middle of the night. I say brave because the mom and uncle both tell her she's brave, but she just doesn't know it. Eventually she does what the mom says and has to lie and pretend she doesn't know anything when the nazis had guard dogs snapping at her.

Historical Information

Even though this story is a non-fiction novel, there are true backstories to it. There actually was a girl named Annelise Platt, who is a friend of the author (Louis Lawry) who was a child during the holocaust. She described it as a time of suffering, sacrifice, courage, and integrity. Another example would be King Cristian X. The Danish people followed his leadership and choices, such as the option not to fight. As they had little, to no army of any size, it would be a bad decision to kill many men even though they knew they wouldn't stand a chance against the nazis. In 1943, Copenhagen did actually sink their own navy as the Germans approached to take over the ships for their own use, (which is depicted in the story). The story also told of the hanker shied that was used to throw off guard dog's sense of smell. It was composed of cocaine and dried rabbits blood (the blood to attract the guard dogs, and the cocaine to throw off their sense of smell).
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Shmoop Editorial Team. "Number the Stars Theme of Identity."Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.