Number the Stars | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars | Chapter 17 : All This Time | Summary

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Summary

This final chapter takes place two years later. The war has ended. Annemarie is with her parents on their balcony in Copenhagen. The narrator explains: "For almost two years now, neighbors had tended the plants and dusted the furniture and polished the candlesticks for the Jews who had fled."

Peter Neilsen, Resistance fighter, has died, killed by Nazis. He had asked to be buried next to Lise, his former lover, but the Germans wouldn't return the bodies. Annemarie's parents have now told her that her older sister Lise was also murdered by the Nazis and that she had been part of the Resistance. The Nazis ran her down with a car. Annemarie got out Ellen's Star of David necklace and asked her father to fix the clasp. He says he will and she can give it back to Ellen when she returns. "Until then," Annemarie told him, "I will wear it myself."

Analysis

The novel resolves several years after the main events of the story. Annemarie and her family are still waiting for the Rosens to return. Unlike the Jews in most countries in Europe, the Danish Jews almost all survived. Their non-Jewish neighbors stood up for them, helping them escape and waiting for their return.

This does not mean the novel removes all loss from the story. The reader learns that both Annemarie's sister, Lise, and Peter Neilsen were Resistance fighters and both died at the hands of their Nazi enemies. War is not just about struggle and victory. There is always a cost, and in many cases, bravery results in loss. Lowry has written a hopeful story of the war, but she did so respectfully; she rightly included the reality of war as the cause of great loss and death.

Symbolically, Annemarie shows her connection to Ellen by wearing the Star of David she has kept for her friend. This act is multifold in meaning. It informs the reader that Ellen survived and will return home. It also shows it is safe to wear a symbol of Judaism in Denmark. The fact that her parents allow Annemarie to do so says they believe she is safe in doing so, and they support her show of love for Ellen.

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