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The Devil's Arithmetic

by Jane Yolen

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Please physically describe the following characters in The Devil's Arithmetic. - Reuven - Tzipporah - Yente - Shifre - Rachel - Rivka - the Commandant - Rabbi Boruch

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Reuven and Tzipporah are the young children of Yitzchak the butcher.  They are described as "two little blond-haired children, no more than three or four years old...silently holding hands".  The children are motherless, but look at their father "adoringly" (Chapter 5).

Yente, Shifre, and Rachel are three girls whom Hannah meets on the way to the wedding of Shmuel and Fayge.  The girls are about thirteen, Hannah's age, and they wear their hair braided, with ribbons.  Rachel is the most outgoing of the three; it is she who runs up and introduces the others to Hannah, and proclaims herself the newcomer's "best friend".  Rachel has " eyes", and has an unusual breathiness to her voice.  She is vivacious and friendly, and always seems to have a "startled-looking" expression on her face.

Yente, called "the Cossack", has "a ferrety face, sharp in chin and nose, and a yellowish complexion".  Shifre has "a pale freckeld face and eyelashes so light they (can) not be seen"; they make her eyes look "shifty" (Chapter 7).

Rivka is a capable young girl whom Hannah meets soon after she enters the camp.  Rivka is "plain-faced, with a broad forehead and deep-set brown eyes...she couldn't have been more than ten years old, yet her face seem(s) ageless" (Chapter 14).

Commandant Breuer is "a small, handsome man, so clean-shaven his face seem(s) burnished...his cheekbones (have a sharp edge and there (is) a cleft in his chin".  The Commandant arrives at the camp in a big black car with a "flag on the aerial snapping merrily".  The Commandant is driven "right up the middle of the camp, between the rows of barracks" (Chapter 15).

Rabbi Boruch, Fayge's father, has a face which is "normally dour", except where his beloved daughter is concerned.  He is "an older man", and when Hannah first sees him, he is  dressed all in black, with a white prayer shawl across his shoulders, a book in his lap".  Rabbi Boruch has the habit of always clearing his throat loudly before he speaks (Chapter 8).


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