What is Hannah's special gift in The Devil's Arithmetic? What did Gitl do after the Holocaust was over?And why does Aunt Eva live with her brother?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Hannah has a special gift for storytelling. When she is transported back in place and time to Poland during World War II, she makes new friends with some girls her own age. As they walk together to the site of a wedding, she enthralls the girls with stories of the books she has read and movies she has seen in her other life in New Rochelle. Stories just "seem to tumble out of Hannah's mouth," and one gets the sense that this special gift will be significant in Hannah's later life when she returns to the present. Because of her odd experiences, she has full memory of the Holocaust, and will likely play a vital role in making sure the world never forgets what transpired then.

After the Holocaust, Gitl emigrates to Israel, where she "organize(s) a rescue mission dedicated to salvaging the lives of young survivors and locating the remnants of their families...it later be(comes) an adoption agency, the finest in the Mideast." She becomes known throughout the country as "Tante Gitl," or "Gitl the Bear."

Grandpa Will and Aunt Eva are the only survivors of the war in their family. Although Grandpa Will marries and has a son, Hannah's father, Eva does not, preferring to live with her brother Will and his wife, and helping to raise their child. When Hannah asks why Eva did this, the only answer she is given is that Eva "wants to." In his old age, Grandpa Will's mind is unstable due to his harrowing experiences during the war, and Eva takes care of him.

It can be argued, however, that Eva has very substantial reasons for choosing to live with her brother Will. Family is everything to her, and Will is the only one in her family besides herself who survived the Holocaust. While she is in the camps, she draws strength from meaning she ascribes to the numbers tatooed on her arm. Eva, or Rivka as she is called, is given the number J18202, and she remembers it by saying,

"J...a Jew. The 1 is for me because I am alone. The 8 is for my family because there were eight of us...and the 2 because that is all that are left now, me and Wolfe (Will), who believes himself to be a 0. But I love him no matter what he is forced to do. And when we are free and this is over, we will be 2 again. God will allow it" (Chapter 14).

Having indeed been allowed to survive the Holocaust with her brother, she is apparently content just to be able to remain with him after the war.

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