Family and Acceptance
Alex Haley once said, “In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” Jane Yolen also wrote a book based on that theme of family and acceptance. In her book, The Devil’s Arithmetic, a young 12-year old girl named Hannah Stern dislikes her Jewish tradition Passover and is ignorant toward her family’s Holocaust experiences. But when she symbolically opens the door for Elijah, she is instantly transported back to 1942 Poland during WWII. As she learns the actuality that the people went through, Hannah starts to value the memories of her relatives and their background. At the beginning of the story when Hannah is in the car with her family, she keeps asking why she has to attend the Passover: “‘Passover isn't about eating, Hannah,’ her mother began at last, sighing and pushing her fingers through her silver-streaked hair. ‘You could have fooled me,’ Hannah muttered.” (Yolen 4) Hannah is a stubborn child who takes her religious traditions for granted. She doesn’t realize the true meaning of Passover, which celebrated the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Despite her age, the reader can already infer that Hannah is egocentric and tries to act mature. Just as any person with family, after a while of being with different people, one can develop feelings for them: "Suddenly a terrible longing for all the people in the dream overcame her and she moaned softly." (Yolen 32) For example, when a child starts the first day of school, they don’t really know anyone. But after getting used to everyone else’s emotions and attitudes, the child may create a friendship. Toward the end of the book, Hannah is almost like an old soul in a child’s body. She had experienced pain, suffering, starvation, and loss, but still had hope and courage to make a final revolt in the end. Right after she walked through Lilith’s Cave with her two friends, she was transported back to her home in New Rochelle....
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