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Number the Stars

by Lois Lowry

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What is the climax of Number the Stars?

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The climax of Number the Stars occurs when Annemarie must deliver a crucial packet to her Uncle Henrik, who is smuggling Jews to Sweden. She is stopped by Nazi soldiers who search her basket but ultimately let her go, allowing her to deliver the handkerchief that prevents dogs from detecting the hidden Jews in Henrik's boat.

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Number the Stars is a book about the Danish resistance to the Nazi occupation of their country during World War II and how the people of Denmark defied the Nazis by trying to hide the Jewish people and then smuggling them to Sweden. The climax of the book occurs when Annemarie needs to take a basket to her Uncle Henrik who is trying to smuggle Jews to Sweden. Inside the basket was a packet that contained a handkerchief with a scent that dulled the sense of smell of dogs along with some food and a napkin. As Annemarie is going to deliver the basket to her uncle, a group of soldiers and their dogs stops her to find out what she is doing. The soldiers don’t believe her story about taking lunch to her uncle. They took some of the food and opened the envelope with the handkerchief, but they eventually let her continue on the path to see her uncle with the handkerchief still in the basket. Uncle Henrik used the handkerchief just a short time later when dogs came to smell the boat the contained the Jews that were being smuggled to Sweden. The dogs didn’t discover the Jews in the boat because they had sniffed the scented handkerchief causing their sense of smell to be dulled.

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Lois Lowry's work of historical fiction, Number the Stars, follows the story of Annemarie Johansen, who puts her life at stake to rescue her Jewish best friend, Ellen Rosen, from being sent to a concentration camp. Ellen hides from Nazi forces searching for Danish Jews by hiding her identity and pretending to be Lise, the deceased older sister of Annemarie.

The climax of the novel occurs when Annemarie is tasked with delivering a very important packet for the Resistance to her Uncle Henrik. As Annemarie walks on the path to the harbor, she is confronted by four Nazi soldiers with snarling dogs. Annemarie pretends she is taking food to Henrik, but the soldiers do not believe her, tearing apart her basket of food and opening the Resistance's envelope to reveal a simple handkerchief. Annemarie is eventually released and successfully delivers the handkerchief (which turns out to contain a scent that will distract search dogs from discovering Jews hidden in the boat in the harbor) to her uncle.

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What is the climax of the story Number the Stars?

The climax of Lois Lowry's novel Number the Stars features the story's heroine, Annemarie, making the delivery of a package to her uncle. 

However, it might be helpful to provide a bit of background to explain the narrative that leads to the climax. The story opens in Copenhagen with the introduction of two girls, a pair of friends named Annemarie Johansen and Ellen Rosen. Nazis are slowly taking over Europe, which is a big problem for Ellen and her family in particular: they are Jewish, and they are afraid that they will be taken away to a concentration camp. 

Annemarie's family decides to help Ellen's family. Together, they hatch a plan: the Rosens will try to escape with their son, while Ellen will stay behind with the Johansens and pretend to be Lise, Annemarie's long-deceased older sister. When Nazis come to the Johansens' house, they are suspicious of Ellen's identity. As a result, the Johansens flee for Sweden, where they will stay with Uncle Henrik.

The plot gets pretty complicated here: what you need to know is that Henrik and Mr. Johansen stage a fake funeral for a nonexistent aunt. Annemarie does not understand why. But she later learns that Uncle Henrik is involved in smuggling Jewish people to safety. This leads us to the climax: Annemarie finds a packet of information that Mr. Rosen accidentally left behind. Something inside the packet, her mother realizes, is of tremendous value to the Resistance. Mrs. Johansen instructs Annemarie to take a basket, fill it with food, hide the packet inside it, and deliver it as fast as she can to her uncle Henrik.

Annemarie's journey to deliver the packet to Uncle Henrik is the climax of the book. She is intercepted by Nazis, who question her but ultimately let her go. It is an important moment because what she delivers to Uncle Henrik, as the rest of the book reveals, is critical to his mission to help Jewish people to safety.

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