Number the Stars

by

Lois Lowry

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Number the Stars: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Annemarie sleeps fitfully and wakes briefly at dawn when Uncle Henrik leaves the house at daybreak to milk the cows and head out on the boat. When she wakes in earnest, mid-morning, Ellen is still asleep, and Annemarie dresses quietly so as not to rouse her friend. Downstairs, Kirsti is feeding a stray kitten she’s brought in from the meadow from a bowl of milk. Kirsti announces that she has named the cat Thor, after the Norse god of thunder. Mama has made oatmeal and set out a pitcher of cream on the table—Annemarie is overjoyed, as it’s been a very long time since she’s had anything other than bread and tea for breakfast. Soon, Ellen comes downstairs, and is similarly excited and amazed by the bounty of food.
Despite the somewhat somber end to the previous evening, the morning is full of happiness, comfort, surprises, and delights. There is plentiful and luxurious food, and happiness fills the house as Kirsti plays with her new pet and the whole family enjoys a veritable feast.
Themes
Sisterhood Theme Icon
Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti play outside together all day long. They spend time petting the cow, Blossom, and romp around with Thor. Inside, Mama cleans the house top to bottom, rearranges the furniture in the living room, and has the girls pick wildflowers to put all around the house. Late that afternoon, Uncle Henrik comes home. Mama chides him for falling behind on his housekeeping, and the two joke and banter happily for a while before Henrik announces that tomorrow is “a day for fishing.” The room grows tense, and Annemarie is suspicious of the curious phrasing her uncle has used—Danish fisherman go fishing “every day, rain or shine.”
Despite the happy, carefree start to the day, as the afternoon progresses onward, it becomes clear that there is something happening underneath the calm façade. Annemarie grows suspicious of what her mother and Henrik are planning, and becomes aware that the truth is still being kept from her and from Ellen.
Themes
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
As Mama and Uncle Henrik begin discussing “preparations” for something, Annemarie grows curious about what’s happening. Henrik turns to Annemarie, Kirsti, and Ellen and tells him that there has been a death in the family. Great-aunt Birte, he says, will be resting in her casket in the living room tonight before being buried tomorrow. Kirsti is fascinated, but Annemarie is confused. She has never heard of a Great-aunt Birte, and no one in the family seems particularly sad about her “death.”
As more and more details of the strange happenings around the house emerge, Annemarie’s suspicion grows—even though Ellen and Kirsti, her sisters, remain naïve and in the dark.
Themes
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon