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The Devil's Arithmetic

by Jane Yolen

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Can you provide an example of Rivka's bravery in The Devil's Arithmetic?

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There are many examples of Rivka being brave in The Devil's Arithmetic.  It is important to remember that Rivka is also Hannah’s “Aunt Eva.”  Hannah does not discover this fact until the end.  When Hannah is transported back in time to the Holocaust, Rivka is exactly Hannah’s age.  Almost all of Rivka’s small actions of survival are examples of her bravery.  Rivka is always “organizing” in order to make life in the concentration camp palatable for the Jewish people confined there.  Rivka is always risking her own safety by procuring extra clothing and food to help others. 

Rivka has two goals:  to survive and to remember.  Rivka accomplishes both goals by the end of the novel.  Rivka has survived the Holocaust due to the help of Hannah/Chaya.  Further, Rivka originally changes her name to Eva in order “to forget,” but Rivka finally realizes that trying to forget the Holocaust is a bad idea because that would make it easier for history to repeat itself.  In revealing the complete story to Hannah at the end of the novel, Rivka has accomplished her goal to help the Jewish people remember.

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