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"You are a name, not a number. Never forget that name, whatever they tell you here. You will always be Chaya--life--to me."
The Devil's Arithmetic is a 1988 Historical Fiction novel by Jane Yolen about a teenaged Jewish girl named Hannah, who is transported through time to a 1942 Polish concentration camp. Hannah goes from being disrespectful of Jewish beliefs to realizing the importance of remembering after seeing the horrors of the time.
It was made into an Anvilicious movie starring Kirsten Dunst in 1999.
Tropes used by the novel:
- Adult Fear
- Anvils That Needed to Be Dropped: The point of the book and the movie, to introduce young teenagers to the the Holocaust.
- As the Good Book Says...
- Cassandra Truth: Hannah when telling the men about the failed escape attempt.
- Chekhov's Gun: Subverted with Hannah knowing the outcome about the escape attempt. The men don't listen to her and end up getting hanged.
- Complete Monster: Commandant Breuer.
- Composite Character: In the film, Rivka becomes Hannah's cousin and replaces the relatives she meets when she first journeys to the past.
- Fake Nationality: In the film, American Brittany Murphy and British Daniel Brockelbank as Polish Jews.
- Fan Disservice: Twice. First when the women are ordered to strip to their underwear when they enter the camp. Secondly when they are about to be gassed.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Gitl does this several times to Chaya.
- Grandfather Clause
- Heroic Sacrifice: Chaya who Hannah has been reincarnated as saves Rivka this way.
- High Octane Nightmare Fuel
- Identity Amnesia: While Hannah's hair is being cut off, she realizes she can't remember her old life at all, and eventually just believes Hannah never existed.
- Infant Immortality: Averted completely. The Rabbi's young children are killed early on and 11-year-old Sarah is gassed at the end.
- Meaningful Echo: Not explicitly stated but left in with a bit of Fridge Brilliance. When Hannah is speaking to her Aunt Eva she remarks "the way you speak, I will never get over it". Rivka says the same thing in the past once which makes sense since they're the same person.
- Also about the photo "someday I will make you a copy".
- Meaningful Name: As the quotes says above, Chaya means 'life.' Ironically, she gives her life so her future relative can live.
- Shot At Dawn
- Tear Jerker
- Together in Death
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia
- Traumatic Haircut: Truth in Television as all the Jews have their hair shorn when they enter the camp. In the book Hannah remarks she has trouble telling the other women apart.
- War Is Hell
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: At the start of the film, Hannah is about to get a tattoo but is stopped because she is late for dinner.
- World War II
- You Are Number Six