The Devil's Arithmetic Chapter 13 Summary
by Jane Yolen

The Devil's Arithmetic book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download The Devil's Arithmetic Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 13 Summary

In the morning, Hannah awakens to the sound of a "bellowing horn." She sits up, hits her head on the shelf above her, and suddenly remembers “the trip in the cattle car... the tattoo, the shorn hair.” Looking around, Hannah sees the other women emerging sleepily from their bunks in the stark barracks.

The door to the building opens and a guard shouts at the prisoners that if they want to eat, they must get in line quickly. Hannah stands and sees Gitl bending over one of the lowest shelves. Something in Gitl’s demeanor draws Hannah over to her; curled on the shelf before them lies little Tzipporah, with her finger still in her mouth, dead. When Hannah, not fully realizing that the child is gone, reaches in to touch her, Gitl orders her not to and slaps her; she then embraces Hannah with such force that Hannah gasps. Gitl sobs brokenly that she will have to tell Yitzchak that his daughter is dead, but she does not know how she will be able to do it.

Gitl’s eyes are dry by the time she and Hannah leave the barracks. The others are already lined up to eat, even Fayge, who is being helped by one of the women from her village. At the first table they come to, a young girl with deep-set brown eyes gives them each a metal bowl. The girl patiently warns them that they must take special care of their bowls, which will be used for eating, drinking, and washing; if they are lost, they cannot be replaced. The girl, who looks no more than ten years old, introduces herself as Rivka and tells Hannah and a few others that if they will meet her after supper, she will tell them how to survive in this terrible place. Hannah nods and receives her ration of watery potato soup and a small slab of dark bread. Famished, she consumes her meager portion in an instant.

After the meal, the three-fingered woman lines the newcomers up with a liberal dose of slaps, pushes, and verbal abuse. She addresses them briefly,...

(The entire section is 530 words.)