-->''"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 HistoricalFiction novel by Creator/JaneYolen about a teenaged Jewish girl named Hannah, who is transported through time to a 1942 German concentration camp in occupied Poland. Hannah goes from being disrespectful of Jewish beliefs to realizing the importance of remembering after seeing the horrors of the time.
It was adapted into a MadeForTVMovie starring Creator/KirstenDunst and Creator/BrittanyMurphy in 1999.
!! Tropes used by the novel:
* AdaptationNameChange: In the novel when Hannah goes into the past, she assumes the identity of Chaya. In the movie her name is still Hannah.
** Rivka's brother Wolfe in the film. He is replaced with her mother Mina, who doubles as a CompositeCharacter of Hannah's aunt and uncle.
** Several minor characters as well, such as Rachel, Esther, and Shifre, who Hannah meets at the wedding, and the female camp guard. A female guard is heard very briefly during the scene where Hannah and the other women must change into camp clothes, but it's not the same one as in the book.
** Hannah's little brother Aaron is also adapted out, and with him, one of the original major plot points: when the camp is inspected, young children must disappear or be killed, so they hide in the garbage heap or midden. This gives Hannah a brief flashback of her little brother hiding Passover ''afikomen'' in the bathroom laundry hamper.
* AdultFear: Your daughter ending up alone in a strange place where you can't protect her from the horrors that await her. There's also [[spoiler: the woman who has to hide her pregnancy and later her baby from the guards]].
* AgeLift: In the novel Hannah is around eleven or twelve. In the movie she is old enough to drive and get a tattoo (Kirsten Dunst was seventeen when the film was made).
* AllJewsAreAshkenazi: Subtly averted when Hannah is told by Rivka to not stand near the Greek Jews, because they don't speak Yiddish and so therefore can't understand commands in German. This is because most Greek Jews were either Romaniotes (living in Greece since Roman times) or Sephardic (emigrating there from Spain or North Africa), rather than Yiddish speaking Ashkenazi Jews.
** Once Hannah finds out what year it is, she realises that the guards interrupting the wedding are Nazis, and what is in store for everyone. But there's nothing she can do about it.
** She also realises from something her grandfather said about a botched escape attempt - that the Jews won't be able to escape. [[spoiler: The escape indeed is betrayed and the men die in the attempt]].
* ChekhovsGun: Subverted with Hannah knowing the outcome about the escape attempt. [[spoiler: The men don't listen to her and end up getting hanged.]]
* CompositeCharacter: In the film, Rivka becomes Hannah's cousin and replaces the relatives she meets when she first journeys to the past.
* DeathByAdaptation: A borderline example. In both [[spoiler: Hannah sacrifices herself and goes to the gas chambers in Rivka's place]]. In the novel it is only implied as [[spoiler: Hannah realizes as she walks into the gas chambers that she is walking back through the apartment door in the future]]. The film however actually shows it happening, complete with a shot of [[spoiler: Hannah's body]].
* FanDisservice: Twice. First when the women are ordered to strip to their underwear when they enter the camp. Secondly when [[spoiler: they are about to be gassed]].
* FoodPorn: In-universe, in the book and movie. The book shows Hannah and her friend Shifre discussing favorite foods while working in the camp. Hannah has a brief flash of memory and attempts to describe pizza, but gets upset because she can't. In the movie, Hannah actually does describe pizza to the entire women's barrack. They don't know what it is, but Hannah's expression and tone reveal she is experiencing true food-based nostalgia.
* GetAHoldOfYourselfMan: Gitl does this several times to Chaya.
* GirlishPigtails: Rivka braids Hannah's hair when she is transported to the past.
* HeroicSacrifice: Chaya [[spoiler: who Hannah has been reincarnated as]] saves Rivka this way.
* IdentityAmnesia: 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. As the book draws to a close, Hannah's camp memories begin fading, and her old life comes into sharper focus.
** [[spoiler: Averted completely. The Rabbi's young children are killed early on and 11-year-old Sarah is gassed at the end, to say nothing of the literal baby born at the camp who is carried off with her mother to presumably be killed.]]
** Played fairly straight with one child in the book. Hannah carries Leye's baby into the midden during a camp inspection, saving her from the gas. The book's epilogue tells us Leye and her baby, "a solemn three-year-old," had survived.
* IronicEcho: Rivka instructs Hannah on how to pray by speaking "so quietly only God can hear me". Aunt Eva and Hannah have this conversation when Hannah returns to the future.
--> '''Eva:''' I would suggest that you ask God. Do you know how to do that?
--> '''Hannah:''' So quietly only God can hear me.
** Not explicitly stated but left in with a bit of FridgeBrilliance. 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 [[spoiler: since they're the same person]].
** Also about the photo "someday I will make you a copy".
* MeaningfulName: As the quotes says above, Chaya means 'life.' [[spoiler: Ironically, she gives her life so her future relative can live.]]
* MeaningfulRename: [[spoiler: Rivka tells Hannah that she will rename herself Eva when she leaves the camp. Hannah realises that Rivka will become her Aunt Eva in the future]].
* PragmaticHero: Hannah and her friends are at first horrified by Rivka's pragmatic view of life in the concentration camp, but they soon change their mind
* ShotAtDawn: [[spoiler: The men who tried to escape get hanged in front of everyone at dawn]].
* SlipknotPonytail: Hannah has her hair up in pigtail loops when she arrives in the past. While she is being transported in the cattle cart, her hair has come down into two normal pigtails.
* StableTimeLoop: In both the book and the movie, although the movie makes it more explicit.
* TranslationConvention: In the book, Hannah realizes she is neither speaking nor hearing English but instead that she now understands Yiddish as if it were English. In the movie the dialogue that would presumably be in either Yiddish or German is rendered in English, as are prayers which presumably would be primarily spoken in Hebrew (although there are some prayers that are left untranslated, most notably the rabbi screaming out the Mourner's Kaddish with a distinct Ashkenazi accent).
* TraumaticHaircut: TruthInTelevision 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 afterwards.
* TrueBlueFemininity: The dress Hannah wears to Passover is blue.
* WarIsHell: Hannah learns this by experiencing the horrors of the concentration camp.
* UsefulNotes/WorldWarII: This one is set just before the war breaks out.
* YouAreNumberSix: As expected, the Jews each get numbers tattooed on their arms. This parallels Hannah's desire to get a tattoo at the beginning of the film.