In Jane Yolen's Holocaust novel The Devil's Arithmetic, what does the door symbolize?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The door is symbolic in a couple of ways.  During the Seder dinner, Jewish tradition holds that the door is opened to allow the Prophet Elijah to enter.  This door takes on additional meaning in Yolen's novel, The Devil's Arithmetic, however, because the Hannah that opens the door is a self-centered teenager, much more concerned, as teenagers tend to be, with conforming to what's going on around her with other kids her age, and not terribly interested in her family's religious traditions or the devastating effect the Holocaust had on part of her family.  She complains about going to the dinner to begin with, and finds her grandparents' constant emphasis on remembering the Holocaust to be inconvenient and annoying.  Once Hannah opens the door, she is deeply moved by this all-too-real glimpse of her family's tragic history and experiences a significant change in her perceptions of this part of her family's life and collective memory. 

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The Devil's Arithmetic

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