Number the Stars

Number the Stars Summary and Analysis of Chapters 5-7

Chapter 5


Ellen and Annemarie stay up late talking in Annemarie’s bedroom. They nervously wonder whether the Germans will come to see if the Rosens are hiding in Annemarie’s house. Ellen decides that anyone asks her, she will pretend to be Lise. The girls discuss the night Lise died. Annemarie does not know the details - all she remembers is that it was raining, and Lise was with Peter when a car struck her in the middle of the night. Everyone cried, but Papa was very angry. The girls reassure each other that the Germans will never come for Ellen, and fall asleep.

A few hours later, three German officers pound on the front door. Annemarie cracks open her bedroom door and watches as he talks to her parents. The German officer knows that the Johansens are friends with the Rosens, and therefore, he thinks that Mama and Papa must know where the Rosens are. Mama and Papa insist that they have no idea. The officer rudely demands to search the house and starts toward Annemarie’s bedroom, despite Mama's pleas to him not to wake the children.

Annemarie realizes that Ellen is still wearing her gold Star of David necklace. She panics and instructs Ellen to take it off, but Ellen has never removed it before and cannot undo the clasp. Desperate, Annemarie rips the necklace off Ellen's neck and crumples it in her hand moments before the officers barge into the room. When the officers as the girls to identify themselves, Ellen introduces herself as Lise. The head officer, however, notices that Ellen has dark hair, unlike the rest of the family. He asks why, and Papa quickly tears some photos from the family photo album. One of the photos is of Lise, who had dark hair as an infant. The officers finally accept Papa’s explanation and leave the apartment.


Annemarie and Ellen’s conversation about Lise at the beginning of Chapter 5 is an important example of foreshadowing. Ellen jokes about pretending to be Lise, and a few hours later, her life depends on convincing the Gestapo that she is the eldest Johansen daughter. However, their conversation about Lise's death also foreshadows the revelation at the end of the book that Lise did not die in an accident, but was murdered by the Germans for her participation in the Resistance. Papa’s anger and Annemarie's confusion about what actually happened to her sister are hints that the girls do not know the whole story.

The German officers’ midnight visit is Annemarie’s first truly frightening encounter, a stark contrast to their stern but harmless conversation with the Giraffe on the street. The Giraffe touches Kirsti's hair fondly, because it reminds him of own daughter. However, the Gestapo who come to the Johansen's door harass Ellen by tugging at her dark hair, a trait that could reveal her identity and lead to her death. Through this comparison, Lowry demonstrates that some German soldiers were crueler and more frightening than others. The Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, rounded up Jews and members of the Resistance and killed them or brought them to concentration camps. Lowry’s portrayal of the Gestapo officers is appropriately ruthless - they were frequently violent towards children. She presents a more subtle character in the Giraffe, who was likely drafted and stationed in Denmark, although he would rather be at home with his family.

Chapter 6


After the Gestapo leave, it is early in the morning and the girls cannot fall back asleep. Mama and Papa try to lighten the mood by talking about how Lise had dark hair when she was a baby—although it eventually fell out before growing back blonde. Ellen apologizes for her dark hair, which she believes made the Germans suspicious. Mama reassures Ellen that her hair is beautiful and that none of this is her fault. The Johansens decide that Ellen should not go to school because the Germans might look for her there. Instead, Mama will take Annemarie, Kirsti, and Ellen to visit Annemarie’s Uncle Henrik (Mama's brother). Uncle Henrik is a fisherman who lives on the north coast of Denmark, near Sweden.

Papa wants to bring the whole family Henrik's home, but Mama insists that if Papa skips work, he will make the Germans even more suspicious. Later that day, Annemarie hears Papa speaking on the phone in code to Uncle Henrik. He tells Henrik that Mama is bringing him one carton of cigarettes—that is, one Jewish refugee—today, but more will be coming. At this time, though, Annemarie does not yet fully understand the code.

The train ride to Uncle Henrik’s village is very beautiful, and Annemarie passes the time by pointing out the sights to Ellen. Suddenly, two German soldiers enter the car. They ask Mama where the family is going, and she explains that they are going to visit her brother. The soldiers seem to accept this and move on, but then one whirls around suddenly and asks if they are visiting her brother for the New Year. This is an attempt to trick the Johansens, because the Jewish New Year is in October but the Western one is not until January. Mama does not fall for the trick—she just acts confused. Kirsti nearly exposes them by mentioning Ellen's family's New Years tradition, but she catches herself at the last second and starts chattering about her new black shoes instead.

When they finally arrive in the village, Mama and the girls walk the two miles to Uncle Henrik’s house via a forest path. As they walk, Mama tells stories about her own childhood in the village - she grew up in the house where Uncle Henrik lives now. Annemarie runs ahead to tell Uncle Henrik they have arrived.


In Chapter 5, Papa shows bravery, intelligence, and quick thinking. In Chapter 6, Mama reveals that she possesses many of the same qualities. She does not fall for the German soldier’s trick when he asks her about the New Year. She is also very good at keeping the children calm despite their dangerous situation. Even though Ellen’s life is in peril, Mama does her best to make the trip to the fishing village seem like a fun adventure. She tells them stories about her childhood and lets the girls think they are walking through the forest because it is pretty—not because they must avoid German eyes. Mama's attempts to protect her children from upsetting news become increasingly less effective as the story unfolds, until finally, Annemarie finds out the truth about Lise's death. Mama wants to protect her children's innocence, but the dangerous circumstances ultimately prevail, forcing Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti to mature much faster than their parents had hoped.

Chapter 6 includes many descriptions of the novel’s setting. In the beginning of the story, Lowry gives a detailed description of life in Copenhagen during World War II. Now, she paints a lush and vibrant image of the Danish countryside. She mentions specific landmarks, such as the Deer Park and the Kronborg Castle, that are still standing today.

Because of Lowry's specific description of the environment in Number the Stars, she is able to draw her readers into Annemarie's world, which makes the character relatable and her situation that much more emotionally charged. In addition, Lowry's description of the peaceful countryside and Mama's idyllic childhood presents a contrast to the darkness and terror of the Gestapo's visit the night before. She shows the reader that even though the Germans have occupied Denmark, it still has a history and cultural identity that the Nazis can never take away.

Chapter 7


Annemarie and Ellen play in the meadow near Uncle Henrik’s house. A gray kitten joins them. They also visit the beach, and Annemarie points the coast of Sweden out to her friend. Annemarie is surprised to learn that Ellen has never seen the ocean before, but Ellen explains that her mother is afraid of the ocean because it is so large and cold. Mama spots the girls and warns them not to talk to anyone from the village. That night, she makes applesauce and Uncle Henrik fries some of the fish he caught. Annemarie and Ellen sleep together in the attic.

Ellen asks Annemarie what happened to her Star of David necklace. Annemarie explains that she hid it in a safe place, and will return it to Ellen when it is safe for her friend to wear it again. Downstairs, Mama and Uncle Henrik talk. They have always been close and usually laugh together, but tonight they are very serious.


In this section, Annemarie and Ellen continue to grow up quickly. Although they still enjoy playing outside and eating applesauce, Mama must make sure they realize that even though they are out of Copenhagen, they are not completely safe. More importantly, Annemarie begins take responsibility for Ellen's safety. Her first courageous act is when she volunteers to keep Ellen’s necklace safe. Ellen is also more aware of the fact that her parents could be in mortal danger. When she goes to sleep, she is not worried about her own safety, but that of her family.