The Devil's Arithmetic Chapter 6 Summary
by Jane Yolen

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Chapter 6 Summary

After they clean the kitchen, Gitl tells Hannah it is time to get dressed for the wedding. She proudly brings out a blue sailor-suit outfit with white piping and a blue sash that she had worn to Shmuel’s Bar Mitzvah, and which Hannah thinks is hideous. Gitl reminds Hannah that her own clothes, along with her bedding, have been burned in Lublin because the doctors said they carried disease. She promises to make Hannah some new clothes before winter comes. Gitl tells Hannah that the sailor dress is “nicer than anything any of the girls in our shtetl or Fayge’s have,” but Hannah, who thinks it is the ugliest thing she has ever seen, petulantly calls it a shmatte, or rag. Gitl scolds her but immediately apologizes for her harshness when she sees the hurt look on Hannah’s face.

Hannah puts on the dress, a pair of heavy cotton stockings, and shiny black shoes. Gitl then braids her hair into two tight plaits, fastening the ends at the top of her head like a crown with a pair of blue velvet ribbons she has been saving for her own wedding day. Hannah looks in the mirror and notes that though her braces are gone, the girl who stares back at her has “the same slightly crooked smile, the same brown hair, the same gray eyes as Hannah Stern of New Rochelle, New York, in America.” Hannah is now Chaya Abramowicz, in another time and place, and there is “something haunting” about her image in the mirror.

By noon, a lively crowd has gathered to accompany the groom to the wedding site. Gitl scurries around busily while Hannah shyly goes to where the men are smoking and laughing to stand by Shmuel, who is the only other person she knows. To her embarrassment, Yitzchak shoos her away from the group, and when she turns around, she finds herself face to face with a young girl with distinctive green eyes. The girl introduces herself as Rachel and says, “So—you are Lublin Chaya,” and calls over to a group of others their age. Three of these girls come running; they have all heard about Chaya and have been looking for her because Gitl promised that they would meet her at the wedding. Rachel introduces the others as Shifre, Esther, and Yente and declares that she is going to be Chaya’s best friend.

Hannah tells Rachel that she already has a best friend, Rosemary, and the girls, recognizing that Rosemary is “a goyish name,” are scandalized that Hannah has a friend who is not a...

(The entire section is 664 words.)