Number the Stars

by: Lois Lowry

Chapters XVI–XVII

Summary Chapters XVI–XVII

Analysis

Annemarie continues to take on adult responsibility, without even thinking about it, when she goes to milk the cow. Though the assignment of responsibilities has returned to normal, she has progressed. Her progression is evident in the way her actions are contrasted with Kirsti's. Kirsti does not understand why Ellen is gone. Annemarie, on the other hand, is included with the adults. Uncle Henrik takes her for a milking lesson because she is grown up enough now to learn how to do it. Annemarie is also allowed to know some of the things that were hidden from her before. The danger has subsided for the moment, so Annemarie can be told more. This is in keeping with the idea that too much knowledge is not a good thing when you must be brave. Now that the immediate danger is passed, more knowledge is acceptable. Uncle Henrik also helps Annemarie see her own bravery. She thinks that because she did not concentrate on the danger of the situation, she was not being brave and that because she was afraid in the first place, her actions were not courageous. But Henrik sets her straight. He acknowledges that she risked her life. To be brave you cannot think about how dangerous your actions are. When she realizes that Peter was a Resistance member, Annemarie finally understands that bravery is not something you can categorize so easily. Peter's bravery was not visible to her, but he was brave nonetheless. Annemarie's talk with Uncle Henrik reveals exactly what happened on the boat. Along with Annemarie, we have known that the Rosens and the others were hidden and protected. Like Annemarie herself, however, we have been kept from knowledge that might have made earlier scenes more obviously dangerous.

Two years elapse between the day Henrik takes his passengers to Sweden and the day the occupation ends. Circles are completed. The novel begins and ends in Copenhagen. Lise is dead, but Kirsti has started to look more and more like her. Ellen's necklace is brought back out and the implication is that its owner will return, too. The war has left absences and changes in its wake. Some Jewish families will return to Copenhagen and their apartments, but not all of them will. The loss of Peter and Lise is irreversible and devastating. With the end of the war, the secret of Lise's death can be revealed. The Germans robbed Lise's youth from her. Although Annemarie was spared, in one way the Germans took her youth from her, too. Even little Kirsti has grown serious.

Annemarie decides to wear Ellen's necklace. Because the war is over, she can wear it without fear. This action is symbolic of Annemarie's belief that she and Ellen will again be able to live the same life. The Star of David is an echo of Annemarie's earlier fears. When she heard the psalm on the night of Ellen's departure, she was overcome by the bigness of the world. Annemarie felt that the stars could never be named. Perhaps she still feels this way, but now Annemarie has a star she can claim as her own.