The Devil's Arithmetic Questions and Answers
by Jane Yolen

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In The Devil's Arithmetic, what happens to Rivka's family in the year that they are at the camp? It is in chapters 14-15

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Rivka and her family arrived at the concentration camp a year ago. Rivka was ten.  They came as a family of eight, and now there are only two left.  When Rivka meets the girls upon their arrival at the concentration camp, she tells them how to survive. She tells them,

"If you are alive now, this minute, it is enough." (pg 112)

Esther doesn't understand that comment.  She wants to know what has happened to her family.  Rivka tells her.

"I have been here a year, and in that time my mother and my sisters, my father and my brother have gone there."  (pg 113) 

She points to the smokestack where the dead bodies are burned.  Her mother was "chosen" because she was coughing so badly that she could not work.  If you did not work, you were put to death. Her sisters, three who were younger than Rivka, died also because they would not leave their mother's side. They were under nine years old!  Her father and her brother, Saul, were put to death for being too strong and too outspoken.  The only brother she has left is Wolfe. However, he has been assigned to the Sonderkommando.  This group of men is assigned to pick up the dead bodies and transport them to the ovens for burning. Wolfe is the one who lovingly picks up Fayge's body.  This experience will never leave him, as we find out at the end of the book.

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