Mrs. Johansen is a gentle woman and an extremely strong woman. She is fiercely protective of her family. In three separate confrontations with German soldiers, Mrs. Johansen overcomes her fear and defends her loved ones. Frequently she defers to Mr. Johansen's authority, but when Ellen is in danger, Mrs. Johansen takes matters into her own hands. Her confidence sets an example that Annemarie tries to follow. Mrs. Johansen is also a source of great comfort. She tells stories of her own childhood as a means of restoring her children's sense of security. These stories also act as a pale substitute for the experiences she wishes her girls could have.
Mrs. Johansen's bravery is both physical and emotional. She not only risks her own life, breaking her ankle in the process, she is also prepared to let her child face danger when it becomes necessary. More than her husband, she becomes involved in the escape of the Rosens. Perhaps because of Lise's attempts, Mrs. Johansen is determined to help in whatever way she can. Appropriately, the boat that transports the fleeing Jews to safety bears her name.