Number the Stars

by

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars: Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Annemarie and Ellen get ready for bed, and, as they do, Ellen expresses how nervous she is at the idea of a soldier coming to the house. At the same time, she reveals that she has a plan—if anyone asks who she is, she would “just pretend to be Lise.”
Ellen’s choice to inhabit the “role” of Lise blurs the line between fantasy and reality, and both deepens and complicates the sisterly bond between her and Annemarie.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
As the girls brush their hair, Ellen asks Annemarie how Lise died—she says that though she remembers the funeral, she never knew what happened to Lise. Annemarie confesses that she doesn’t know “exactly” what happened to Lise either—she knows only that Lise was struck by a car while out with Peter one night. As Ellen solemnly reflects on the day of Lise’s funeral, Annemarie notices a gold and gleaming Star of David necklace around her neck.
Annemarie doesn’t know all the details of her sister’s death, cluing readers in to the fact that she, like the little Kirsti, may have been shielded from the truth in order to remain safe, innocent, and untroubled.
Themes
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
Together the girls get into bed and continue talking about Lise—about her terrible fate, her secret trunk of things, and how beautiful she was. The girls talk about Lise until the girls fall asleep. Hours later, a pounding on the door shakes them from their sleep. Annemarie opens the door to see what’s happening while the terrified Ellen remains in bed. Out in the hall, Annemarie can see her Mama and Papa, holding candlesticks, greeting three Nazis. The soldiers ask them about the whereabouts of the Rosen family—their apartment is empty. The Johansens insist that no one is home but the members of their own family, but the Nazis insist on looking around the apartment.
Annemarie has never fully allowed herself to believe that she and her family would be targeted by Nazis—but now, as her worst fears come true, it is clear that she and her family are not the ones who will suffer most if their ruse is discovered.
Themes
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
Annemarie quietly shuts the bedroom door and flies back to the bed, urging Ellen to take her necklace off. Ellen cannot undo the clasp, and so Annemarie grabs the chain and yanks it free. She folds the necklace into her hand just as the Nazis enter the bedroom and aim a flashlight at the two of them. The soldiers sweep the room but find nothing suspicious. They order the girls to get out of bed and follow them to the living room—Ellen and Annemarie, frightened, follow them. 
Annemarie helps Ellen get her necklace—a dead giveaway of her Judaism—off just in time. Ellen is forced to sacrifice the truth of who she is and inhabit a fantasy in order to save her life.
Themes
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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In the living room the Nazis demand to know the girls’ names. Annemarie gives them her own name, while Ellen tells them her name is Lise Johansen. Mama, distraught, urges the officers to let the innocent children go back to bed. One officer, though, grabs a handful of Ellen’s dark hair, and asks why everyone else in the family is blonde. He asks if the Johansens got the dark-haired girl “from the Rosens.” Papa strides over to a nearby bookcase and pulls out a family photograph album, then tears out three pictures. He hands them to the German officer and points out the names written at the bottom of each—they are of Annemarie, Kirsti, and the real Lise, who had dark hair as a baby.
The Nazis come dangerously close to discovering the truth—but when Papa presents them with old baby pictures of Lise, they are stopped in their tracks. Fantasy and reality blur as the lucky coincidence of Lise having had dark hair as a child “proves” that Ellen is one of the Johansens.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
The officer tears the pictures into pieces and leaves the apartment, taking his cronies with him. Annemarie relaxes her right hand—she has been clutching Ellen’s necklace inside it the whole time. As she opens her palm, she sees that she has “imprinted the Star of David” into the soft flesh there.
In this passage, Annemarie finds that having nervously pressed Ellen’s necklace onto her palm has left an impression upon her. The symbolic moment shows how deeply Annemarie is affected by her friend’s close brush with capture—and points to the sameness and sisterhood between the two girls despite the differences in their lives.
Themes
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon