Number the Stars | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars | Chapter 6 : Is the Weather Good for Fishing? | Summary

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Summary

After the soldiers leave, Mr. Johansen begins to figure out what to do. Ellen apologizes for having dark hair. Mrs. Johansen tells her not to apologize for her beautiful hair, and they talk of Lise. It is the first time in three years they do so.

The Johansens decide the girls ought to skip school and go to Uncle Henrik's house. Mrs. Johansen points out it would draw less attention if she went with the girls and Mr. Johansen stayed behind. He reluctantly agrees. He calls Mrs. Johansen's brother, Uncle Henrik, and asks if the weather is good for fishing. He tells Henrik that he's sending "a carton of cigarettes." Annemarie knows this is untrue. There are no cigarettes in Denmark at this time. The war means goods like cigarettes are scarce and rationed. Then she realizes that it's a code—the "one carton" he is sending is Ellen Rosen.

The three girls and Mrs. Johansen board the train, and on it, they meet more soldiers. When Mrs. Johansen says they are visiting her brother, the soldiers ask if they are doing so for "for the New Year." Mrs. Johansen pretends not to understand they are asking about Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). Then, Kirsti pipes up. Annemarie is afraid her little sister is going to expose Ellen, but all she does is show the soldiers her "brand-new shiny black shoes." They arrive at the station and walk through the woods to Uncle Henrik's house along the seashore.

Analysis

This chapter continues the discussion of visual appearance. Ellen is aware that her dark hair is suspicious, and she apologizes. Rather than allow her to feel upset or guilty, Mrs. Johansen comforts her, and then the Johansens begin preparations to get Ellen to safety. They are risking their own safety in an act of resistance. It is significant that part of this includes discussion of Lise, who, the reader will eventually learn, was a member of the Resistance movement in Denmark.

When the girls and Mrs. Johansen are traveling, the soldiers also try to lure them into confessions by asking about celebrating the "New Year." Most people in Denmark would celebrate the New Year on December 31st and January 1st, so by asking about it in September, the soldiers are asking, "are you Jews?"

This chapter continues to make references to the privations of the time. Cigarettes are a luxury. Annemarie knows the word must be code because she realizes how impossible it is to find them in Denmark at this point.

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