Number the Stars | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars | Chapter 5 : Who is the Dark-Haired One? | Summary

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Summary

Ellen and Annemarie are in Annemarie's bedroom talking about Mr. Rosen and his desire for Ellen to become a schoolteacher, and they then discuss Lise. How she died is something of a mystery. Ellen talks about wishing Lise was her sister, too. Then Ellen notes that "I wouldn't want the Germans to take my family away—to make us live someplace else. But still, it wouldn't be as bad as being dead." The girls go to sleep, but soldiers wake the whole house banging on the front door in the middle of the night.

The soldiers are seeking the Rosens, and they believe the Johansen family is hiding them. As the soldiers enter, Annemarie realizes Ellen is still wearing her Star of David. Ellen can't get the clasp open, so Annemarie tears it free. When the soldiers come into the girls' room, Annemarie "crumpled it into her hand and closed her fingers tightly." The soldiers search the room, and then bring the girls and the Johansens into the living room. They question the girls, and Ellen says she is "Lise Johansen." The soldiers doubt her because of her dark hair. They suggest the Johansens "got her someplace else" and ask, "From the Rosens?"

Mr. Johansen gets a photo book and tears out "three pictures from three separate pages." The officers look at the photos, each labeled, and when they reach Lise's photo—a dark-haired baby—they tear it up, drop the pieces, and leave.

When they are gone, Annemarie sees she had "imprinted the Star of David into her palm."

Analysis

Their inability to find and take away the Jews they had located in the city undoubtedly frustrates the Nazi soldiers. They'd collected the names and addresses from the synagogues, and so they would have expected to be able to easily locate and capture the Jews. However, as the reader knows from history—and from this novel—the citizens of Denmark hid or otherwise helped almost all of the Danish Jews evade capture.

Also significant in this chapter is the soldiers' focus on "dark hair." The Nazis believed that blonde hair and blue eyes were superior traits. Many Danes, including both Annemarie and Kirsti, match this image. The reader may recall the soldier at the novel's onset remarking that Kirsti reminded him of his own pretty little girl. Ellen's dark hair draws attention. The soldier (correctly) suspects she could be a Jew.

The other indicator of Ellen's identity is the Star of David she wears. In some German-occupied territories, Jews had to wear a large yellow Star of David on their clothing at all times. In the center was written Jude, German for "Jew." Ellen's necklace identifies her as a Jew, and if this was revealed, she would be taken. This is Annemarie's first act of resistance: she hides Ellen's identity to keep her safe. In difficult times like this, ordinary people, including children, need to act courageously.

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