Conflict in Lois Lowry’s “Number the Stars”

Arts and Literature

Lois Lowry’s novel “Number the Stars” is a poignant story set in Copenhagen, Denmark, during World War II. The book explores various themes and events surrounding the war, but one of the central elements that drives the narrative is the presence of conflict. In this article, we will delve into the different conflicts depicted in the book and analyze their significance in shaping the story.

1. Historical Conflict: World War II

One of the overarching conflicts in “Number the Stars” is the historical backdrop of World War II. This global conflict, which began in 1939 and ended in 1945, forms the basis for the entire narrative. The war and its consequences create a sense of uncertainty, fear, and danger that permeates the lives of the characters.

1.1 The Occupation of Denmark

Within the historical conflict of World War II, a specific sub-conflict arises with the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany. The German occupation serves as a catalyst for many of the conflicts and challenges faced by the characters in the book. The presence of the Nazis and their oppressive regime creates a constant threat to the safety and well-being of the Danish people.

2. Personal Conflict: Fear and Survival

Another significant aspect of conflict in “Number the Stars” is the personal struggles faced by the characters as they navigate the realities of war. Fear and the instinct for survival become driving forces for the characters, leading to a range of conflicts both internal and external.

2.1 Annemarie’s Internal Conflict

As the protagonist of the story, Annemarie Johansen experiences her own internal conflict. She grapples with fear and uncertainty while trying to make sense of the world around her. Annemarie’s internal conflict intensifies as she becomes more involved in the resistance efforts to help Jewish friends escape from the Nazis.

2.2 Kirsti’s Innocence vs. Harsh Reality

Kirsti, Annemarie’s younger sister, represents a conflict between innocence and the harsh reality of war. Kirsti struggles to understand the gravity of the situation and often acts as a reminder of the innocence that is being lost due to the war.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Book Summary and Review) – Minute Book Report

3. Moral Conflict: Right vs. Wrong

Throughout “Number the Stars,” the characters are faced with moral dilemmas, leading to conflicts between what they believe is right and wrong. These conflicts force the characters to make difficult choices and question their own values.

3.1 The Decision to Help Jewish Friends

The primary moral conflict revolves around the decision to help Jewish friends escape from the Nazis. The characters must weigh the risks and consequences of their actions against their belief in the value of human life and the importance of fighting against injustice.

3.2 Mrs. Johansen’s Sacrifice

Another moral conflict arises when Mrs. Johansen is faced with the choice of sacrificing her own safety for the sake of others. Her decision to risk her life to protect her Jewish friends demonstrates the moral dilemma she faces and highlights the theme of selflessness in the face of adversity.

4. Cultural Conflict: Danish vs. German Identity

The cultural conflict between the Danish and German identities is also explored in “Number the Stars.” The Danish people’s sense of national pride and resistance to the German occupation becomes a significant source of tension and conflict throughout the story.

4.1 Danish Resistance Movements

The Danish resistance movements play a crucial role in the cultural conflict depicted in the novel. These movements symbolize the Danish people’s refusal to submit to German control and their determination to preserve their own cultural identity.

4.2 The Importance of Danish Traditions

Throughout the book, Danish traditions and customs are emphasized as a way to maintain a sense of national pride and unity. The preservation of Danish traditions becomes an act of resistance against the German occupation and a source of cultural conflict.

5. Social Conflict: Prejudice and Discrimination

“Number the Stars” also explores the social conflict arising from prejudice and discrimination. The treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis and the Danish people’s response to this discrimination create tensions and conflicts within the society.

5.1 The Plight of Jewish People

The persecution and discrimination faced by Jewish people during World War II is a significant source of social conflict in the book. The characters witness the atrocities committed against their Jewish friends, leading to a heightened sense of injustice and a desire to take action.

5.2 Resistance Against Discrimination

The resistance efforts depicted in the novel reflect the Danish people’s rejection of discrimination and their willingness to stand up against injustice. This social conflict emphasizes the importance of solidarity and unity in the face of prejudice.

6. Emotional Conflict: Loss and Grief

Emotional conflict, particularly in the form of loss and grief, is a prevailing theme in “Number the Stars.” The characters experience various forms of loss throughout the story, leading to emotional turmoil and conflict.

6.1 Loss of Loved Ones

The loss of loved ones, including friends and family members, is a constant source of emotional conflict for the characters. The grief they experience adds depth to their personal struggles and serves as a reminder of the harsh realities of war.

6.2 Coping with Grief

The characters’ journeys in coping with grief and finding ways to move forward become an integral part of their emotional conflict. Their resilience and ability to find solace and support in one another highlight the importance of human connection and empathy.

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry presents a multifaceted exploration of conflict within the context of World War II. From historical conflicts to personal, moral, cultural, social, and emotional conflicts, the book offers a comprehensive portrayal of the challenges faced by individuals and communities during wartime. Through these conflicts, the characters ultimately demonstrate resilience, bravery, and the power of human compassion in the face of adversity.


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