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Number the Stars | Study Guide

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars | Quotes


The whole world had changed. Only the fairy tales remained the same.

Narrator, Chapter 2

It is 1943, and the world is at war. Everything has changed—from little things like having no butter or tea to the Nazi soldiers in the streets of Copenhagen. Annemarie's sister has died, and her father seems tired. Despite this, five-year-old Kirsti still speaks of fairy tales. Those tales end with the all-important, hopeful line that "they lived happily ever after." Even in this dark time, there is hope.


All of Denmark is his bodyguard.

Mr. Johansen, Chapter 2

The king of Denmark did not surrender to the Nazis because he agreed with their purposes and ideology. He surrendered quickly to protect his people from slaughter. But, in his way he still resisted. The people, too, worked to resist. They would protect their king and the majority of the 7,000 Jews living in Denmark.


Now I think that all of Denmark must be bodyguard for the Jews.

Annemarie Johansen, Chapter 3

As the king sought to defend all his citizens, the citizens organized a Resistance and stealthily removed the Jews to Sweden where they would be safer. While Annemarie does not know the extent of the Danish Resistance, she already expresses the sentiment that she and her family will help protect Denmark's Jews.


She looked down, and saw that she had imprinted the Star of David into her palm.

Narrator, Chapter 5

The symbol of faith that Ellen wears would expose her as a Jew. Annemarie ripped the necklace away before soldiers could see it and hid it in her hand. This necklace is referenced throughout the book, and at the conclusion Annemarie has more than the temporary imprint in her hand: After the war, Annemarie wears the necklace until she can return it to Ellen Rosen.


So, Henrik, is the weather good for fishing?

Mr. Johansen, Chapter 6

Annemarie's father is asking about the transportation of Jews to safety. Annemarie does not understand what the words mean or that they are code. She simply knows that for a fisherman such as her uncle, the weather is almost always good for fishing. She becomes suspicious that the words may transcend their literal meanings.


I will keep it there for you until it is safe for you to wear it again.

Annemarie Johansen, Chapter 7

Ellen is worrying about her necklace, which she could not wear in Denmark after the Nazis had begun taking the Jews. The necklace is both a gift from her father (from whom she is separated at this point in the novel) and a symbol of her faith.


The whole world was: too cold, too big. And too cruel.

Narrator, Chapter 10

The fear of the vast, cold ocean is reflected in the fear of a vast, cold world. Modern readers may struggle with the scope of the war, but in 1943, there were very few safe harbors for Jews. The idea of resisting the Nazis was daunting, and those nations that resisted were often decimated. Europe was under siege, and Jews were being murdered. Those not yet taken were alienated by the scores of people too afraid or unsure to act.


So there were other sources, too, of pride, and they had not left everything behind.

Narrator, Chapter 11

The Jews have to leave their possessions behind on their escape to Sweden, but they do not leave their courage, their humanity, and their faith. The Nazi hatred and the unfairness of the situation does not break them. What they left behind were their things, not their identities.


But now ... because of you, Annemarie, everything is all right.

Uncle Henrik, Chapter 15

It is a simple act, delivering the basket with the handkerchief in it, but Annemarie's act of courage saves many lives. The other people who helped the Jews get to the boat—the Jews themselves, Uncle Henrik, Peter Neilsen, Mr. and Mrs. Johansen—all had roles in the rescue, too. However, Annemarie's bravery and quick thinking were key. She delivered the drugged cloth, and because of it, the dogs wouldn't pick up the scent of the human cargo being smuggled out of port.


That's all that brave means—not thinking about the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do.

Uncle Henrik, Chapter 16

Uncle Henrik's words on bravery are, in some ways, the point of the book. Annemarie is living in Copenhagen under Nazi rule, but she finds the courage to stand up in small ways. She takes risks, and in doing so she helps save her best friends and others as well.

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