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Number the Stars | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars | Chapter 14 : On the Dark Path | Summary



Annemarie runs through the cold woods, thinking of the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" and of the times she's told the story to her sister as she runs. She thinks of the dangers in the woods, of soldiers. She thinks, too, of her mother and hopes her mother has called the doctor. Annemarie is almost to the harbor, running "as fast as she had at school." She continues to think about "Little Red Riding Hood," about the times she had paused before telling Kirsti "she heard a growl." Today, it is Annemarie who hears footsteps and a growl. Just then she sees four German soldiers with two big dogs standing in the path in front of her, and they look intimidating.


The reader should recall the references to fairy tales at the onset of the novel. There, the stories were framed in the context of cultural history and stories Annemarie told her little sister. Here, Annemarie uses the "Little Red Riding Hood" tale to give herself hope. She has told the tale to Kirsti often while walking through the woods. Annemarie remembers those repetitions of the story and imagines herself as the hero. She is faced with wolves—in this case in the form of dogs and soldiers—and she must be brave.

The reader already knows the soldiers can be cruel, but the reader will also recall that Little Red Riding Hood is victorious in the end. There is tension in the story, fear for Annemarie, worry that she will fail, but all of that is assuaged by the allusions to the fairy tale. The heroine of a fair -tale will ultimately be victorious. Readers know that. Even as Annemarie faces cruel men and growling dogs, readers know she will be brave and overcome. Fairy tales end with victory for the righteous, and Lowry is drawing that expectation by referencing the "Little Red Riding Hood" story so overtly.

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