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Number the Stars

Number the Stars

by Lois Lowry

Analysis: Writing Style

Deceptively Simple

It's a challenge to find a subject that's more complicated or emotionally raw than the Holocaust. But Number the Stars approaches the ideas of Nazism, Resistance, persecution, and morality just as a smart ten-year-old would. Even though the concepts in the novel are messy and difficult, the language that Lois Lowry uses is plain and simple.

Let's take a look at one example in particular to see if we can highlight the simplicity of language. In this instance, Annemarie is talking about Resistance fighters, the Danish people who stood up to the Nazis. The Resistance was a complicated political movement, and there are so many things you could say about it, so many ways you could try to define it. But how would you understand the Resistance if you were ten years old and living through it yourself? How would you understand the Resistance if you saw it happening around you, instead of reading about it from the comfort of an armchair?

The Resistance fighters were Danish people—no one knew who, because they were very secret—who were determined to bring harm to the Nazis however they could. They damaged the German trucks and cars, and bombed their factories. They were very brave. Sometimes they were caught and killed. (1.55)

Annemarie boils down the Resistance into a few very important essentials, telling us exactly what she needs to know. And because Annemarie is our main squeeze in the story, all she needs to know is all we need to know.

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