The Devil's Arithmetic Questions and Answers
by Jane Yolen

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What are some allusions in The Devil's Arithmetic?

Some allusions in The Devil's Arithmetic include the title. "Arithmetic" alludes to the numbers tattooed on prisoners' arms. "Devil" is an allusion to the Nazis. Hannah's creating a tattoo on her arm is an allusion to her becoming Chaya in the dream. Her Hebrew name Chaya is an allusion to life and the survival of the Jewish people despite the Nazis efforts to eradicate them.

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Some allusions in The Devil's Arithmetic include one that is introduced in the very title of the book and is repeated throughout the story. It is the allusion to the Nazi’s arithmetic—or systematic extinguishment of the Jewish people. The Nazis try to strip people of their individuality and humanity and convert them to numbers tattooed on their arms. Hence the word "Arithmetic" in the book's title. The "Devil" in the title is an allusion to the Nazis.

This allusion is repeated in several places. The first time is when Hannah recalls something that occurred years earlier with Grandpa Will who has "strange fits, showing off the tattoo on his left arm and screaming in both English and Yiddish." When Hannah uses a ballpoint pen to create a tattoo on her own arm, it is also an allusion to the dream when Hannah becomes Chaya. Not surprisingly, Hannah's tattoo causes Grandpa Will much pain as he recollects his experiences in the death camps.

At the family seder, Grandpa Will's comment about...

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