Friday, November 4, 2011

Character sketch of Hannah Stern from the novel The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

In the novel The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, the protagonist, Hannah Stern, is a young teenager who lives in New Rochelle, New York. Hannah does not understand her ancestors and how horrible the Holocaust really was but when she time travel and becomes Chaya who lives in Poland in the 1940s at the time of the Holocaust she discovers what it was truly like.

Hannah is a typical teenager with many traits. She is 13 years old, has mouse brown hair, braces and grey eyes. Chaya and Hannah are very much alike in appearance except Chaya doesn't have any braces. They may be similar but are very different in personality, attitude and behaviour. Hannah is very bossy, she is almost always bossing Aaron, her little brother. She is also impatient as she was with her mother in the car and with her grandfather because he is always yelling at the TV. She would probably never take the time to close the refrigerator lock at home. Yet she has a creative side to her and is good at entertaining like when she was telling stories to her brother Aaron. Chaya, however, is very different. She is unselfish. She gave parts of her bread to Reuven when she could until Gitl stopped her. She is also very brave, when the Commandant was coming she picked up a baby and ran to the midden so she could save it.

Hannah and Chaya each have at least one very strong relationship with the people she knows. Hannah has a great relationship with her aunt Eva as it says in the book that for some reason even Hannah doesn't know why but she has always preferred Aunt Eva. Chaya had a great relationship with Rivka who is another prisoner in the camp. Rivka made sure that Chaya worked in the kitchen instead of chopping wood with the men and taught her how to survive in the concentration camp. They also chatted while they worked and in the end Chaya died for Rivka. What is the coolest is that in the end we discover that Aunt Eva and Rivka are actually the same person.
Hannah experiences many changes and grows in maturity when she becomes Chaya. She learns the reasons why her grandfather acts the way he does which is mostly because of the horrors of the Holocaust that she herself experienced as Chaya until t she died. She learns why she has such a great relationship with Aunt Eva. When she comes home she is more understanding with her grandfather. Therefore, Hannah is a dynamic character.

Hannah's role in the novel is to deliver the message of the story which is to appreciate your backgrounds and not to judge people you don't understand, you haven't been through what they have. In this case Hannah goes through what her Aunt Eva and Grandpa Will went through.

In conclusion, Hannah is a strong character to whom many teenagers can relate with. She learns and grows a lot during this novel.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much I lost my book and this really helped with my report. Thank you!