Study Guide

Number the Stars Chapter 10

By Lois Lowry

Chapter 10

Let Us Open the Casket

  • Henrik heads out, but everyone else is quiet and subdued. 
  • Annemarie stays up even though she doesn't have to, and they all wait quietly. She and Ellen are exhausted.
  • The group is interrupted by the arrival of Nazi soldiers. They saw that the lights were on and too many people were in the house, which made them suspicious. Not good.
  • Mrs. Johansen explains that they're having a pre-funeral gathering—there's nothing wrong with that.
  • Man, the soldiers are scary.
  • One of them makes Annemarie say who's in the casket. She knows what to do: she says Birte.
  • The officer asks why the coffin isn't open, and Mrs. Johansen lies and says that it's because Birte had typhus and so she's full of germs.
  • The officer hits Mrs. Johansen on the face, tells everyone they should "open it after [they] leave" (10.27), and then takes off with the rest of the soldiers. (Take a sec and think about how terrible that scene was.)
  • Everyone's stunned, but they have to act normal so they don't draw any further attention to themselves.
  • To buy some time, Peter reads from the Bible—pretty common at a funeral. In particular, he reads the psalm that talks about numbering the stars. (Sound familiar? Yeah, that's where the title of the book comes from. For more on that, check out what we have to say in "What's Up With the Title?")
  • The reading really makes Annemarie think. She worries that "[t]he whole world was too cold, too big. And too cruel" (10.38).
  • Peter reads aloud for a long time, and then finally goes to reveal what's in the coffin. 
  • Cliffhanger!