What important events happen in chapters 9-14 of The Devil's Arithmetic?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 9, Hannah has realized where she is and what time period it is.  She knows that The Holocaust is coming, and she is trying to save the people.  Even though they are being transported by truck to the train, they don’t listen to her.

How can you talk like that?  Your words will fly up to Heaven and call down the Angel of Death, Lilth’s bridegroom, with his poisoned sword. (ch 9, p. 67)

Hannah has been telling stories, and everyone thinks this is just one of them.

In chapter 10, Hannah experiences some Nazi brutality as all of the villagers are forced to lay on the ground while the soldiers take their valuables.  Hannah is even more frightened when they are all shoved into two boxcars.  The people laugh and tell stories, which frustrates Hannah.  She asks Gitl why they behave that way.

We Jews...joke about death because what you laugh at and make familiar can no longer frighten you. Besides...what else is there to do? (ch 10, p. 82)

When a woman’s child dies, the laughing stops.  Hannah cries.

In chapter 11 they arrive at a concentration camp, and Hannah reads the sign that says, “Work makes you free.” Men and women are separated, and Hannah’s friend Rachel dies.  Then all of Hannah’s hair is cut off.  In chapter 12 they receive numbers and clothes, but Hannah cannot remember her name when they ask her.  She is told it is Chaya, but she replies that now it is “J197241”.  In chapter 13 they are given a little food and told that if they do not do exactly what they are told they will die.

By chapter 14, things are getting bad.  Hannah and the others contemplate the Devil’s Arithmetic in their new numbers, and what they mean.  People who have given up on life are dying regularly, and Hannah is forgetting who she was.

Chapters 9-14 are very important in the book, because Hannah goes from trying to warn everyone about the horrors of the Holocaust to actually experiencing it herself.  She is frustrated and sad, and feels helpless.  Worst of all, she is losing contact with her real self and her real life.

Read the study guide:
The Devil's Arithmetic

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