Number the Stars

by

Lois Lowry

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Themes and Colors
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Reality vs. Fantasy Theme Icon
Sisterhood Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Number the Stars, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity

At the heart of Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars is a story of what it means to wield social power and privilege. As her Nazi-occupied hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark, grows more and more hostile towards its Jewish residents, ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her non-Jewish family step up and sacrifice their own safety in order to help their Jewish friends and neighbors escape. Annemarie summons the courage to risk her own safety—and indeed her social privilege—to…

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Bravery

Despite being a children’s novel, Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars makes a complicated argument about what it means to be brave. Throughout the novel, Lowry creates tension between the idea that bravery comes from knowing the risk at hand and doing the hard thing anyway, and the opposing idea that one is able to act more bravely when ignorant of what’s at stake. She ultimately argues that true bravery is not based on whether one…

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Reality vs. Fantasy

Stories and fairy tales play an important role throughout Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. Annemarie Johansen tells her younger sister Kirsti fairy tales to lull her to sleep each night—and even comforts herself in times of fear or danger by comparing herself to figures of fantasy such as Little Red Riding-Hood or distant, storied figures from real life, such as the Danish king, Christian. By weaving in and out of real life and…

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Sisterhood

Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen are thick as thieves, and have been all throughout their childhoods. Their mothers, too, are close friends who get together every day for an afternoon coffee—and keep up with the tradition even when the closest thing to coffee left in Copenhagen is hot water steeped with herbs. Even though Annemarie has a younger sister, Kirsti, she still feels a void in her life when it comes…

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