Compare and contrast Hannah and Chaya in The Devil's Arithmetic.

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The idea that Hannah becomes a different person in the past, as opposed to her dreaming about life back then, is central to The Devil’s Arithmetic. Through identifying with another person who lived very differently in time, place, activities, and fate, Hannah comes to understand not only her own current situation but what her relatives endured. Perhaps more importantly, she is finally able to understand the meaning of sacrifice. While Chaya is called upon to endure arduous conditions and do back-breaking labor in an attempt to survive, she must live largely in the present and is not given a chance to reflect on others’ past lives. The author chose to make Chaya a reflection of Hannah in age, gender, race, and religion: they are twelve-year-old, white, Jewish girls. Thus, Hannah could more immediately identify with the other person’s experience.

Hannah, a middle-class American girl, lives in the suburbs of New York City with her nuclear family. Especially for holidays, she visits...

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