How does Hannah die in the book The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen?

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kathik | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Actually Hannah does not die in The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. Chaya is the one who perishes. Hannah is a young girl in modern times who is mysteriously taken back to war torn Europe during the Holocaust, when she goes to open the door for Elijah at a Passover Seder she is spending with her family. Hannah takes on the persona of Chaya Abramowicz in Poland. Chaya's parents have recently died, and she had also been very ill with cholera. At this point in the story, Chaya is living with her aunt and uncle. Hannah, as Chaya, tries to warn the family and the other Jews of what is to come, but of course, nobody believes her. They all end up in a concentration camp, where Chaya (Hannah) meets a young tough girl named Rivkah, and they become very close. Towards the end of the book, Chaya (Hannah) is telling her friends, Rivka, Shifre, and Esther about a futuristic vision she's had when a Nazi guard catches them talking instead of working. He says he needs three more Jews that day (for extermination). He chooses all but Chaya (Hannah), who quickly grabs Rivka's scarf, puts it over her head and pushes Rivka away. She and Shifre and Esther go to "Lilith's Cave" together. As Chaya (Hannah) enters to be gassed, she finds herself facing a door and she is once again at her grandparents' Passover seder as Hannah. She notices the number on Aunt Eva's arm and realizes Eva and Rifka are the same person.

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