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Number the Stars

Number the Stars


by Lois Lowry

Little Red Riding-Hood

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

We all know the story of "Little Red Riding-Hood." Girl goes to meet grandma and ends up meeting the big, bad wolf. Wolf eats grandma and girl. Lumberjack saves the day and grandma and girl both make it out (literally) alive. Happily ever after, the end.

Annemarie tells this story while walking through the woods with her super-secret delivery. She pretends she's telling the story to her little sister, but we're pretty sure she's just trying to comfort herself here. (We sure would be.) Unfortunately, Annemarie's situation is weirdly similar to Little Red Riding-Hood's. Both are traveling through the woods to visit a relative, and both are carrying a basket of food with bread and cheese in it. Oh, and both end up meeting a big bad something—only in Annemarie's case, it's Nazis and their dogs.

All this storytelling just adds to the suspense of Number the Stars. Will Annemarie have the same fate as Little Red Riding-Hood? Will she get eaten by the big, bad wolf? Or will she spit in the face of fairy tales everywhere—sorry, Kirsti—and be the hero on her own?

The fact that Annemarie has a different fate than Little Red makes us realize that Annemarie is unique: she's no fairy tale damsel in distress. Instead, she's a brave heroine who faces the dark woods on her own in order to save the day.

Still interested in the symbolic or literary aspects of this fairy tale? Check out the SurLaLune website, which has one "traditional" version and one "annotated" version of the story.

(By the way, there are definitely echoes of other fairy tales in Number the Stars, but "Little Red Riding-Hood" gets the most screen time. And the most Shmoop time.)

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