What happens to Fayge in The Devil's Arithmetic?

In The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, Fayge is to marry Shmuel the day the Nazis arrive. At first, Fayge has great difficulty coping at the concentration camp, but eventually, she is able to give hope to others through her stories. In the end, Fayge is executed with Shmuel because she will not move from his side.

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In Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, Fayge is engaged to Hannah/Chaya's uncle Shmuel. On their wedding day, however, the Nazis arrives and deport the Jews to concentration camps. Shmuel and Fayge's wedding never happens. Instead, they are forced into trucks and eventually into boxcars. They are deprived of all their possessions. Fayge's beautiful wedding dress is ruined.

When the Jews reach the camp, the men and women are separated. Their heads are shaved, and they are given shapeless, rough clothing. Fayge nearly stops responding to anyone or anything. She is so shocked and terrified by what has happened that she can hardly function. Yet Fayge manages to recover herself, and she begins to tell stories meant to raise everyone's hopes.

Then the unthinkable happens. Shmuel participates in an escape attempt and is caught. As he is about to be executed, he says Fayge's name. Suddenly, Fayge cries out and pushes her way through the crowd. She falls at Shmuel's feet and refuses to move. She looks up, smiles at him, and says, "The sky is our canopy. God's canopy. The sky." Fayge knows that she would much rather die with Shmuel than live without him. Shmuel kisses the top of Fayge's head, and then the gunfire begins. The couple dies together, finally united, their love unable to be shaken.

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