Rosa and Stella can be seen as two "types" of survivors. Rosa, with one young child, places all of her efforts into keeping Magda alive. As long as Magda is alive, Rosa does not need to eat, for her nourishment comes from the safety of her child. Stella, however, has no other life to protect and has no maternal instinct to override the desperate self-preservation brought on by the Holocaust. The cold that descends upon her, permeates her very heart. Stella has found that she must harden herself to resist the Holocaust. Eventually, when she steals the life-giving shawl from Magda, her only explanation is that "[she] was cold".
There may be a tendency to judge Stella harshly for her callousness in taking Magda's precious shawl. But Stella, we are reminded, is only fourteen; she is on the brink of starvation. More tellingly, Stella wants to return to childhood, wishes she were young enough to be like Magda, wrapped in a shawl, like an external womb, safe from the horrific outer world. Stella is more to be pitied for her action, for she is in the most difficult position of all, being old enough to understand her position yet unable to put aside her still childlike needs. There is also a sense that Stella is a survivor—that she will emerge from the concentration camp. Indeed, when Ozick continues Stella and Rosa's story after the war, we find that it is Stella who has been able to resume some sort of a normal life and who in fact is helping support Rosa...
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