The Devil's Arithmetic

What are some of Hannahs flashbacks in Devils Arithmetic?


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In Chapter Eight, Hannah arrives in Viosk with her family. Ahead Fayge sees some cars and army trucks parked in front of the synagogue. She asks her father, Reb Boruch, what surprises he has planned. He replies that he knows nothing of these vehicles. Hannah looks at the vehicles closely and knows something is wrong. A man emerges from the synagogue. He is dressed in black military garb and has silver medals that gleam in the light on his uniform. He opens the car door for another similarly dressed man. Hannah begins to panic. She asks Reb Boruch what year it is. He tells her it is the year 5701. Hannah becomes hysterical. How can it be the future, she asks. Shmuel interjects that Chaya has been this way since she was ill. Reb Boruch realizes that Chaya is referring to the Christian calendar, in which case the year is 1942. Hannah realizes immediately where she is and the danger they are in.

After arriving at the concentration camp in Chapter 11, the prisoners are taken to their respective barracks. Hannah and the other women meet a woman in a blue dress who tells them that they are the newcomers and therefore the lowest of the low. The woman is a prisoner there, too, but is not a Jew. The woman leads them to an auditorium to shed their clothes so they can be showered. The women are not comfortable changing in front of each other. The woman in the blue dress tells them to think of it as a mikvah, a ritual bath.

Hannah implores them to listen to her. There are no showers, she says, only gas chambers. The women beg her not to frighten them more than they already are. Hannah decides that what she knows will only extinguish any hope they have left. She also decides that there is nothing she can do but cooperate. She has no weapons or means to free them. She reluctantly begins to undress as well.