Number the Stars

by

Lois Lowry

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Number the Stars can help.

Number the Stars: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Annemarie remembers her mother’s advice to act like a “silly little girl” should she run into any Nazis. She tries to imagine herself as Kirsti on the day the two of them and Ellen ran into soldiers on the street—a silly little girl who knows “nothing of danger.” Annemarie politely greets the soldiers, and when they ask her what she’s doing in the woods, she tells them she’s bringing lunch to her uncle, a fisherman.
Annemarie has been longing to know more and more of the truth of what’s going on around her—but in this moment, she tries her best to emulate Kirsti’s oblivious naivete, inhabiting a “fantasy” of who she really is and what she really knows.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Annemarie notices that the soldiers’ dogs are looking at her basket and growling with hunger. She tries to think of how Kirsti would respond to the fear and danger of the moment, and decides to chatter on and on, attempting to bore the soldiers. One of them, however, reaches into her basket, takes the loaf of bread, and breaks it apart. After inspecting it, he tosses the halves onto the ground for the dogs, amidst Annemarie’s protests.
Annemarie is channeling Kirsti as best she can. She wants to convince the soldiers that she is nothing more than an ignorant little girl—she knows that there is more than just her own life at stake, and is determined not to fall apart and expose what’s really going on.
Themes
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
The soldiers continue rifling through Annemarie’s basket, laughing at the brown spots on the apple and the meager piece of cheese. They taunt her for not bringing her uncle any meat—Annemarie, thinking like Kirsti, petulantly responds that the German army “eats all of Denmark’s meat.” Annemarie’s sassiness is just a front, though—internally, she is praying that the soldiers won’t lift the napkin, the only thing left in the basket. The dogs sniff the bottom of the basket hungrily, and the soldier tells Annemarie that his dogs can smell meat inside. The soldier reaches in and lifts up the napkin to Annemarie’s horror.
The more frightened Annemarie grows, paradoxically, the more bravely and brashly she is able to behave in front of the soldiers. Even as they verge on exposing her mission’s secret, she is able to keep her cool and maintain her naïve, petulant front.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
The soldier, seeing the paper packet at the bottom, asks Annemarie what it is. She insists she doesn’t know, and even scolds the soldier for making her late and ruining her uncle’s lunch. The soldier lifts the packet from the basket and tears it open, asking what’s inside, but Annemarie insists she doesn’t know. She finds herself thinking of how grateful she is for her ignorance—she genuinely doesn’t know what’s inside. The soldier pulls a simple handkerchief out of the package, and throws it to the ground. The dogs sniff at it, but leave it alone. Having found nothing, the soldiers push past Annemarie into the woods, urging her to “go on to [her] uncle and tell him the German dogs enjoyed his bread.”
This is the first time in the novel when Annemarie considers that perhaps being ignorant of what’s really going on is indeed helping to make her braver. If she knew what the packet contained, she would not be able to keep up her petulant, childish façade in front of the Nazis so well. Luckily, the object in the packet is something quotidian and uninteresting, even to Annemarie, and she is able to escape with her freedom.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
Get the entire Number the Stars LitChart as a printable PDF.
Number the Stars PDF
Annemarie collects the apple and the handkerchief, the only things left intact, and puts them back into the basket. She rushes down to the dock, and is relieved to find that Uncle Henrik’s boat is still there. She rushes aboard and delivers the basket to him, telling him briefly of her encounter with the solider. Uncle Henrik, visibly relieved, thanks Annemarie for bringing the handkerchief to him, though he doesn’t explain what it is, or why it’s important. He tells her to return home, and assures her he’ll be back later that evening. As she turns to go, she overhears Uncle Henrik saying that he hopes the German soldiers “choke” on the bread they stole.
Annemarie has faced the “big bad wolf” and emerged triumphant. She is able to complete the dangerous task set to her, and returns to Henrik’s house knowing that she has contributed something—though she doesn’t know what—very important to her uncle’s mission.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon