What is the relationship between Ilsa Hermann and Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief?Please Describe.

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The relationship between Ilsa Hermann and Liesel Meminger is one fraught with tension.  Liesel does seem to be a bit angry with Mrs. Hermann for not continuing to have her laundry done by Rosa.  Liesel thinks that the mayor and his wife must still be able to afford Rosa's services even though Ilsa says that they cannot.  Liesel does not feel guilty in any way for stealing a book from Ilsa's library and figures that the lady will not even notice that one book is missing from among so many.  Once Ilsa notices that Liesel is stealing books from her, she does not scold the girl and figures that she must be in some way starved if she resorts to breaking into her library.  Ilsa feels that she can provide Liesel with what she needs, so she allows her to come into the library.  But the two remain relatively guarded and thus the relationship is tense.  Liesel never really trusts Ilsa, and Ilsa is unsure of Liesel's motives.  Their relationship is symbolic of the ultimate tension of the time in which they live--the circumstances of the war do not allow them to have a bond that they otherwise might have.

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