Number the Stars

by

Lois Lowry

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Mama’s brother and Annemarie’s uncle, Henrik is a fisherman who lives in the countryside. Unmarried and slightly roguish, Henrik lives alone in his childhood home—and has, since the start of the war, used his fishing boats to regularly smuggle Danish Jews across the narrow sea to freedom in Sweden. Henrik is staunch, determined, and yet gentle and kind—he does everything he can to help those in need, and daily risks his own life and well-being in order to do what he knows is right.

Uncle Henrik Quotes in Number the Stars

The Number the Stars quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Henrik or refer to Uncle Henrik. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Number the Stars published in 1989.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“So, Henrik, is the weather good for fishing?” Papa asked cheerfully, and listened briefly.

Then he continued, “I’m sending Inge to you today with the children, and she will be bringing you a carton of cigarettes.

“Yes, just one,” he said, after a moment. Annemarie couldn’t hear Uncle Henrik’s words. “But there are a lot of cigarettes available in Copenhagen now, if you know where to look,” he went on, “and so there will be others coming to you as well, I’m sure.”

But it wasn’t true. Annemarie was quite certain it wasn’t true. Cigarettes were the thing that Papa missed, the way Mama missed coffee. He complained often—he had complained only yesterday—that there were no cigarettes in the stores. The men in his office, he said, making a face, smoked almost anything: sometimes dried weeds rolled in paper, and the smell was terrible.

Why was Papa speaking that way, almost as if he were speaking in code? What was Mama really taking to Uncle Henrik?

Then she knew. It was Ellen.

Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“How brave are you, little Annemarie?” [Uncle Henrik] asked suddenly. She was startled. And dismayed. It was a question she did not want to be asked. When she asked it of herself, she didn’t like her own answer.

“Not very,” she confessed, looking at the floor of the barn.

Tall Uncle Henrik knelt before her so that his face was level with hers. Behind him, Blossom lowered her head, grasped a mouthful of hay in her mouth, and drew it in with her tongue. The kitten cocked its head, waiting, still hoping for spilled milk.

“I think that is not true,” Uncle Henrik said. “I think you are like your mama, and like your papa, and like me. Frightened, but determined, and if the time came to be brave, I am quite sure you would be very, very brave.

“But,” he added, “it is much easier to be brave if you do not know everything. And so your mama does not know everything. Neither do I. We know only what we need to know.

“Do you understand what I am saying?” he asked, looking into her eyes.

Annemarie frowned. She wasn’t sure. What did bravery mean?

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Uncle Henrik (speaker)
Page Number: 75-76
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“The old man stumbled. But Peter helped him up. He didn’t seem to be hurt. Maybe just his pride,” she added, smiling a bit.

It was an odd word: pride. Annemarie looked at the Rosens, sitting there, wearing the misshapen, ill-fitting clothing, holding ragged blankets folded in their arms, their faces drawn and tired. She remembered the earlier, happier times: Mrs. Rosen, her hair neatly combed and covered, lighting the Sabbath candles, saying the ancient prayer. And Mr. Rosen, sitting in the big chair in their living room, studying his thick books, correcting papers, adjusting his glasses, looking up now and then to complain good-naturedly about the lack of decent light. She remembered Ellen in the school play, moving confidently across the stage, her gestures sure, her voice clear.

All of those things, those sources of pride—the candlesticks, the books, the daydreams of theater—had been left behind in Copenhagen. They had nothing with them now; there was only the clothing of unknown people for warmth, the food from Henrik’s farm for survival, and the dark path ahead, through the woods, to freedom.

[…]

But their shoulders were as straight as they had been in the past: in the classroom, on the stage, at the Sabbath table. So there were other sources, too, of pride, and they had not left everything behind.

Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

“Uncle Henrik,” [Annemarie] asked, “where are the Rosens and the others? I thought you were taking them to Sweden on your boat. But they weren’t there.”

“They were there,” he told her, leaning forward against the cow’s broad side. “You shouldn’t know this. You remember that I told you it was safer not to know.

“But,” he went on, as his hands moved with their sure and practiced motion, “I will tell you just a little, because you were so very brave.”

“Brave?” Annemarie asked, surprised. “No, I wasn’t. I was very frightened.”

“You risked your life.”

“But I didn’t even think about that! I was only thinking of—”

He interrupted her, smiling. “That’s all that brave means—not thinking about the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do. Of course you were frightened. I was too, today. But you kept your mind on what you had to do. So did I. Now let me tell you about the Rosens.”

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Uncle Henrik (speaker), Ellen Rosen, Mrs. Rosen, Mr. Rosen
Page Number: 122-23
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Number the Stars LitChart as a printable PDF.
Number the Stars PDF

Uncle Henrik Character Timeline in Number the Stars

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Henrik appears in Number the Stars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Who is the Man Who Rides Past?
Bravery Theme Icon
...never been, but had seen many times across the narrow North Sea at her Uncle Henrik’s seaside home.  (full context)
Chapter 6: Is the Weather Good for Fishing?
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
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...that it might be time to take the girls on a “vacation” to her brother Henrik’s home by the sea. Mama agrees, but says that she alone should be the one... (full context)
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
While Papa goes to the phone to call Uncle Henrik, Annemarie explains to Ellen that her uncle is a fisherman who lives out at the... (full context)
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Bravery Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
...from the soldiers—but still anxious. Mama, Ellen, Kirsti, and Annemarie begin the walk to Uncle Henrik’s house, and Mrs. Johansen remarks on how the neighborhood has changed. As Kirsti and Annemarie... (full context)
Chapter 7: The House by the Sea
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Bravery Theme Icon
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As Ellen, Annemarie, and Mama approach Uncle Henrik’s house, Ellen is stunned by how beautiful the farmhouse and surrounding meadow are. Mama and... (full context)
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Bravery Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
...girls get into bed, Annemarie listens to the sounds of her mother’s conversation with Uncle Henrik wafting up from downstairs. Normally, when the two are together, they are constantly laughing and... (full context)
Chapter 8: There Has Been a Death
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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.... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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As Mama and Uncle Henrik begin discussing “preparations” for something, Annemarie grows curious about what’s happening. Henrik turns to Annemarie,... (full context)
Chapter 9: Why Are You Lying?
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After supper, Annemarie goes out to the meadow alone. She visits Uncle Henrik in the barn, where he is milking Blossom, and asks him why he and Mama... (full context)
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Uncle Henrik asks Annemarie if she understands what he’s saying, but Annemarie isn’t sure that she does.... (full context)
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Uncle Henrik reveals that there is no Great-aunt Brite—he and Mama have lied to Annemarie, Kirsti, and... (full context)
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...upstairs, but Ellen and Annemarie sit up in the living room with Mama and Uncle Henrik. Ellen doesn’t know the truth of what’s going on, and tells Annemarie and the others... (full context)
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Uncle Henrik soon announces that it is getting late, and he needs to get to the boat—he... (full context)
Chapter 10: Let Us Open the Casket
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Uncle Henrik, relieved that everyone has made it to his house—the rendezvous point—leaves to go out to... (full context)
Chapter 11: Will We See You Again Soon, Peter?
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Bravery Theme Icon
...to happen to Mr. Rosen and Mrs. Rosen, though no one has explicitly told her: Henrik is going to smuggle them across the narrow sea to Sweden. Though the Rosens seem... (full context)
Chapter 13: Run! As Fast As You Can!
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...relieved to see that she’s all right. Mama says that everyone is safe with Uncle Henrik—on the way back from the docks, though, she tripped and hurt her ankle. She continued... (full context)
Chapter 15: My Dogs Smell Meat!
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 16: I Will Tell You Just a Little
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That night at dinner, Annemarie, Mama, and Uncle Henrik laugh as Mama tells Henrik all about Annemarie’s attempts at milking Blossom the cow. The... (full context)
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After dinner, Uncle Henrik takes Annemarie out to the barn to show her how to milk Blossom properly, but... (full context)
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Uncle Henrik reveals that many fishermen, himself included, have built secret hiding spots underneath the decks of... (full context)
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Annemarie is horrified that soldiers searched the boats, but Uncle Henrik tells her that there is a system in place for making sure the Jews stay... (full context)
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Uncle Henrik explains that the handkerchiefs have been dipped in a special solution created by scientists working... (full context)