What happens in Chapters 13 and 14 in "The Devil's Arithmetic"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hannah awakens from an exhausted sleep in Chapter 13 and finds that Baby Tzipporah has died.  The new prisoners are ordered out of the barracks and given a meager meal of watery soup and hard bread.  Rivka, a young girl who is helping to distribute the food, warns the bewildered Jews to take good care of their bowls, which are used for everything - eating, washing, and drinking.  After the meal, the inmates are lined up and told by a three-fingered woman what they should expect from then on - "hard work and more hard work, and punishment if (they) do not perform well and on time".

In Chapter 14, Rivka gathers Hannah and some other girls and gives them a lesson in camp survival.  She has been in the camp for a year, and so knows what it takes to stay alive.  Rivka knows how to "organize" items that will help the prisoners survive, such as sweaters and shoes to guard against the bitter cold.  She also tells the girls about the "midden", or refuse heap, where the children, who are not supposed to be allowed to live in the camp, run to hide when the Commandant comes.  The consequence of any kind of infraction is incineration in the ovens, and Rivka cautions the girls to maintain a spirit of hope and determination even in the face of such an atmosphere of complete horror and absurdity.  Otherwise, they will become like the "musselmen", those who have given up and will not be long for even this world". 

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The Devil's Arithmetic

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