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The Devil's Arithmetic

by Jane Yolen

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List five of Rivka's survival rules in "The Devil's Arithmetic".

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Rivka had survived in the camp for a year. She told the new arrivals what she had learned in order to survive.

  1. The girls must remember Rivka's number on her arm and what it stood for. They must also remember their own and make up a meaning for it.
  2. To let go of people is to survive. Do not mourn the dead or think about the grief of their death.
  3. Do not go near the large wooden fence containing a door with a black handle that leads to Lilith's cave (the gas ovens for cremating Jews).
  4. When the commandant comes to inspect the camp, the young children go hide in the midden so they are not taken to be cremated. Young children are not to be in work camps, but the Germans will not search for them in the garbage. The girls are to help the children.
  5. Do not ask why anything is as it is. Instead, feel lucky when something helps them survive.


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