illustration of main character Hannah opening a door which leads to a barbed wire fence

The Devil's Arithmetic

by Jane Yolen

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What are the main characteristics of the main characters in The Devil's Arithmetic?

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Here are a few of them.

  1. Hannah- has a brother, mother, and father, and lies in the present in New Rochelle, New York. She has many non-Jewish friends and does not appreciate her Jewish heritage. She becomes Chaya in the flashback. Both of them are excellent story tellers who help people forget their troubles.
  2. Grandpa Will- lost most of his family in the Holocaust. He is still angry and irrational and lives with his surviving sister, Aunt Eva. He was Wolfe, Rivka's brother in the prison camp during the flashback.
  3. Aunt Eva- has only her brother Will left after the Holocaust. She is Hannah's favorite aunt who was Rivka in the flashback.
  4. Aaron- is Hannah's younger brother. He is afraid that he will forget the traditional Four Questions he must recite at the Seder dinner. Hannah said she would whisper the answers to him if he forgot.
  5. Gitl- is Chaya's aunt with whom she is living in the flashback. Gitl is called The Bear by people who think she is gruff. She is not married, but there are hints that she hopes to marry Yitzchak and raise his motherless children.

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