Annemarie and Ellen prepare to go to bed in Annemarie's room. Ellen asks if Annemarie thinks soldiers will come to search the apartment. Annemarie does not think so. Ellen jokes that if they do, she can practice her skills as an actress by pretending to be Lise. Ellen hopes to go to acting school. Ellen asks how Lise died, and Annemarie admits that is not completely sure. Lise and Peter were out together and then Annemarie's parents got a call about an accident. Her parents went straight to the hospital, and Lise died. Mr. Johansen was very angry. Annemarie notices the Star of David necklace Ellen wears.
A few hours after falling asleep, they wake to pounding on the apartment door. Annemarie peeks out the bedroom. A soldier is asking her parents if it is true that they are friends with the Rosens. He demands to know where the Rosens are. Mrs. Johansen answers that they must be sleeping in their home. The soldiers come in, looking for the Rosens. Annemarie tells Ellen to take off her necklace. The clasp sticks, but Annemarie yanks it off just in time. The three soldiers come in and order the girls out of bed and interrogate them. They want to know why there are two blond girls (Annemarie and Kirsti) and one with dark hair. Mr. Johansen grabs a family photo album and rips out three pictures. Each is a photo of a baby with the name below: Kirstin with blond hair, Annemarie with blond hair, and Lise with dark hair. The soldiers rip the photo of Lise and leave. As the soldiers leave, Annemarie realizes that she has been clenching Ellen's necklace in her hand. When she opens her fingers, the Star of David is imprinted on her skin.
Mr. and Mrs. Johansen think about what they should do. Ellen apologizes for being trouble, particularly her dark hair. Mrs. Johansen tells Ellen her hair is beautiful and adds how lucky they were that Lise had dark hair as a baby. The talk of Lise makes Annemarie happy, since she has not heard her parents speak about Lise since Lise's death. The Johansens decide that Ellen and Annemarie will go to Uncle Henrik's house instead of to school. Mrs. Johansen says she will make the trip alone with the girls in order to raise less suspicion. Mr. Johansen protests at this, but then agrees with his wife. Mr. Johansen calls Henrik and asks if "the weather is good for fishing." Annemarie thinks this is a bizarre question, because Henrik is a fisherman and will go out rain or shine. Mr. Johansen says he is sending his wife to visit along with a "carton of cigarettes." The cigarettes further puzzle Annemarie, for she knows there have not been any available for a while. Then Annemarie realizes that her father is speaking in code; the carton of cigarettes is Ellen. Mr. Johansen says that other cartons will come soon.
Mrs. Johansen, Annemarie, Kirsti and Ellen take the train to Gilleleje, where Uncle Henrik lives. On the way, soldiers come through the wagon. They ask Mrs. Johansen where she is going and if she is paying a visit for the New Year. Annemarie's fears that Kirsti will say it is Ellen's New Year, but she does not, and the soldiers leave. Once in Gilleleje, the foursome walk through the forest to the house where Mrs. Johansen grew up. Kirsti chats about the castle they saw on the trip, insisting that kings and queens live there. When Annemarie tries to correct her, Mrs. Johansen says, "Let her dream." Mrs. Johansen points out the garden her aunt used to keep and the place where her dog used to wait for her after school.
When they get to the sea, Ellen says it is her first time so close to the ocean. Her mother is afraid of the ocean, Ellen explains. A leaf floats up to them and Annemarie remarks that it could have come from Sweden, which is visible across the water. Annemarie scans the water for her uncle's boat, but they cannot find it. They go to Henrik's house. Mrs. Johansen asks if they saw anyone and warns not to speak to anyone. The girls want to know if there are soldiers here, too. Mrs. Johansen says there are. After supper Ellen and Annemarie go up to bed in Mrs. Johansen's childhood room. Ellen asks Annemarie what she did with her Star of David necklace. Annemarie says she hid it carefully and will keep it for Ellen until she can wear it again safely. Ellen wishes she knew where her parents were. As they fall asleep, Annemarie can hear her mother and Uncle Henrik talking downstairs. It reminds her of earlier visits to the house during the summer, only now there is no laughter.
Acting is vital to Ellen's narrow escape. During the course of the night, each member of the Johansen family and Ellen must do some acting. Ellen must play the part of the third daughter. All of them must pretend to be calm. Mr. and Mrs. Johansen must pretend that there is nothing wrong and that they do not know where the Rosens are. When the soldiers come, they must pretend that an ordinary night in their home has been interrupted. Annemarie has a role as well. She must keep her friend from being too afraid. In a way, this is a role reversal: Ellen is taking Lise's place for the night, but it is Annemarie who must act like the older sister. Before going to bed, Annemarie helps Ellen feel better by assuring her that nothing will go wrong, though Annemarie is not positive this is true.
Annemarie also protects Ellen by pulling off Ellen's necklace. The imprinting of the necklace in Annemarie's hand stands for a transformation in Annemarie. For the first time, Annemarie takes action against the Germans. With this, Annemarie assumes new responsibly. She has taken a step away from the passive role of a child. Though Annemarie is not herself Jewish, she has become involved in helping Ellen, which puts her in danger. By pulling the necklace off her friend she is taking matters into her own hands, literally and figuratively, and imprinting herself with her good work.
Lise plays an important role in Ellen's safety. The photograph is what convinces the soldiers that Ellen is the Johansen's daughter. Because Lise had dark hair as a baby, the soldiers stop being suspicious of Ellen's dark hair. When Ellen and Annemarie talk about Lise before going to sleep, Annemarie cannot really explain how her sister died. The real cause of her death is foreshadowed when the soldier rips and crushes Lise's baby picture on the way out. Though Lise's death was awful, in some way she did not die in vain, for Ellen is saved only because Lise died.
The departure from the city is the beginning of a difficult adventure for Annemarie, Ellen, and Mrs. Johansen. Again, Annemarie is aware that she does not fully understand what is going on, but for the moment she does not question it. At this point, the role of knowledge, or lack of knowledge, enters into Number the Stars as a theme. Annemarie begins to see that things are not always what they appear. She realizes that her father is speaking on code over the phone, and also that he is speaking about Ellen. However, she does not pick up on everything. Mr. Johansen tells Henrik that he is sending "a carton of cigarettes" and that more will come later. Though Annemarie guesses that Elle is the carton, she does not focus on the fact that there must be other people coming, too.
Not realizing what she does, Annemarie establishes a new relationship between herself and Ellen. Without Mr. Johansen around to reassure Ellen, Annemarie takes on this responsibility. Though Annemarie may not consciously know she must take on more responsibility, her tone when talking to Ellen shifts. She becomes a figure of authority, though the girls are the same age. She points out Sweden to Ellen. When Ellen asks where her necklace is, Annemarie states what she has done with it and does not consult her friend. She tells Ellen that she has put it somewhere safe, but she does not say where. Without meaning to, Annemarie does for Ellen exactly what her parents have done for her: she gives Ellen enough information to satisfy her, without telling the whole story.
Mrs. Johansen emerges as an important figure. She asserts herself for the first time, deciding that she will make the trip to her brother's without her husband. Mrs. Johansen's childhood is contrasted to the childhoods of the three girls. As they walk through the woods, her stories illustrate a pleasant and safe life. Her faithful dog and the days spent roaming the countryside speak of an innocence that cannot be preserved during war. Though Ellen and Annemarie can play outside, they must be aware of strangers. Even in the country, they cannot be carefree. Despite her wish that her daughters could be unaffected, Mrs. Johansen realizes that this is not possible, at least in the case of Annemarie. Kirsti, though, is young enough to be oblivious and experience pure joy at the visit. Her innocence is contrasted to Annemarie's growing sense that awareness is important. Kirsti thinks that kings and queens live in the castle they see. Annemarie wants to correct her sister, but Mrs. Johansen stops her from doing so, saying it is all right for Kirsti to "dream". She divides Annemarie from the other children with this remark, implying in her statement that Annemarie can separate dreams from reality.
The visit to her mother's old home brings back memories of happier days for Annemarie. She remembers pleasant times before the war, times which she associates with early childhood. In her mind she has an image of the children tucked into bed and adults laughing downstairs, child neatly divided from adult by the line of the staircase. But things have changed. Now it is more difficult to separate the adults from the children. Annemarie is not sure where she belongs, and this makes her feel unstable. Happier times are associated with younger life. In part this is because her existence was happier before the war, but it is also because as a young child, she had a clear sense of her place in the world.
Honestly, Number the Stars really had me thinking about life. It was just the realistic description of things that really made it go deep. It changed my whole outlook on life in general. It also helped me spiritually. It showed me that people go through bad hardships sometimes, but, you can make it through. It has helped me come to terms with some of the hardships I face in my life. Whenever something miserable happens, my mind immediately goes back to this story. This story really goes beyond a story, it touches you spiritually and emotiona... Read more→
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How wouldo you describe Copenhagen after the war ended?