When Anne Frank is given a diary for her thirteenth birthday, she immediately fills it with the details of her life: descriptions of her friends, boys who like her, and her classes at school. Anne finds comfort writing in her diary because she feels she has difficulty opening up to her friends and therefore has no true confidants. Anne also records her perceptions of herself. She does not think she is pretty, but she is confident that her personality and other good traits make up for it. Through her writing, Anne comes across as playful and comical but with a serious side.
Anne’s diary entries show from the outset that she is content and optimistic despite the threats and danger that her family faces. The tone and substance of her writing change considerably while she is in hiding. Anne is remarkably forthright and perceptive at the beginning of the diary, but as she leaves her normal childhood behind and enters the dire and unusual circumstances of the Holocaust, she becomes more introspective and thoughtful.
During her first year in the annex, Anne struggles with the adults, who constantly criticize her behavior and consider her “exasperating.” Anne feels extremely lonely and in need of kindness and affection, which she feels her mother is incapable of providing. She also wrestles with her inner self and considers what type of person she wants to become as she enters womanhood. Anne tries to understand her identity in the microcosm of the annex and attempts to understand the workings of the cruel world outside. As she matures, Anne comes to long not for female companionship, but intimacy with a male counterpart. She becomes infatuated with Peter, the van Daan’s teenage son, and comes to consider him a close friend, confidant, and eventually an object of romantic desire.
In her final diary entries, Anne is particularly lucid about the changes she has undergone, her ambitions, and how her experience is changing her. She has a clear perspective of how she has matured during their time in the annex, from an insolent and obstinate girl to a more emotionally independent young woman. Anne begins to think about her place in society as a woman, and her plans for overcoming the obstacles that have defeated the ambitions of women from previous generations, such as her mother. Anne continues to struggle with how she can be a good person when there are so many obstacles in her world. She writes eloquently about her confusion over her identify, raising the question of whether she will consider herself Dutch, as she hears that the Dutch have become anti-Semitic. Anne thinks philosophically about the nature of war and humanity and about her role as a young Jewish girl in a challenging world. From her diary, it is clear that she had the potential to become an engaging, challenging, and sophisticated writer.