What thematic statement does Yolen explore in The Devil's Arithmetic?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A thematic statement, of course, is one simple sentence about what the author is trying to convey about his or her particular subject.  This statement will often contain some kind of generalization about human nature or life in general. The thematic statement that Yolen explored in The Devil’s Arithmetic is as follows:  memory is both powerful and important.  This thematic statement is especially important in regards to the extermination of the Jews that the Nazis attempted during World War II.  This attempted extermination is appropriately called the Holocaust.  At the beginning of the story, Hannah is annoyed by her relatives’ desire to focus on memory (both in regards to remembering Jewish traditions and remembering the horrors of the Holocaust).  It is only through Hannah’s personal experience with the Holocaust that she learns how important and powerful memory is.  In this regard, The Devil's Arithmetic is truly a coming-of-age story.  In fact, as Hannah makes a decision to sacrifice her own life, she tells Rivka:

Run for your life, Rivka ... for your future.  Run ... and remember.

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The Devil's Arithmetic

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