Number the Stars

Lois Lowry’s novel Number the Stars is a work of historical fiction set in Denmark during the time of the Nazi occupation. The book is narrated from the perspective of ten year old Annemarie and discusses her experiences as well as those of her friends who were affected by the German soldiers during their time in Denmark. At first I was having a difficult time making connections with the story’s title in regards to the theme of curating. There are only a few times in the novel in which stars make a presence. Annemarie holds on to her best friend’s–Ellen–necklace until the end of the war. The necklace is a pendant with the “Star of David.” This star is a central symbol in the Jewish tradition but in the novel it also represents the necessity for the Jews to hide their religion. The fact that Annemarie vows to hold onto the necklace until Ellen’s return from Sweden may also mean that the star resembles Annemarie’s devotion to her friend, and her faith. Stars also make an appearance in the psalm that Peter Neilsen reads before leaving for safety in Sweden. In this sense the stars seem representative of Annemarie’s mentality of the hopeless vastness of life in light of all the things she has experienced. Although the protagonist’s situation is undoubtedly difficult, I felt another connection to the title “Number the Stars” could be the idea of “counting your blessings.” Annemarie definitely suffers losses and finds herself in the unfortunate, yet constant state of fear, but the connections she maintains to the good in life (though maybe less in comparison to the bad) are what allow her to prevail through the worst of circumstances with astounding faith and courage.

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