In The Devils Arithmetic, what happens in chapters 10-17?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapters 10-17 are the second half of the book, which mostly describes Hannah’s experiences in the concentration camp.

In chapter 10, the villagers are introduced to the violence of the Holocaust for the first time when German soldiers come.  They are ordered to lie face down, and their valuables are taken.  They are reassured by one that everything will be fine.

Now, Jews, listen.  Do what you are told and no one will get hurt.  All I ask is your cooperation. (ch 10, p. 74)

Hannah is the only one who knows what is happening.  She is frightened, but she goes along because she has no choice, as the villagers are shoved into boxcars.  When they arrive at the concentration camp, the man and women are split and their heads are shaved.  Hannah fears they will die in the showers, because she knows the Nazis tricked many people that way.  There is great sadness and fear, but they are relieved to be alive because many died in the boxcars.  They are given a number and have to sort through rags to find something to wear. 

The next day a girl named Rivka tells Hannah she will give her advice on how to survive the concentration camp.  She explains that knowing other people’s numbers is important, because they should avoid some numbers and seek others out, depending on how likely the person is to survive.

In chapter 15, Hannah watches as children take off their clothes and hide in the garbage pile.  She seems a baby forgotten and runs to hide with it.  The children hide from the Nazis because they are not supposed to be there, and they take their clothes off so they won’t get dirty. In chapter 17, some of the prisoners are planning an escape.

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