Diary of a Young Girl
November 17, 1943–January 28, 1944
I sometimes wonder if anyone will ever . . . overlook my ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I’m Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good, plain fun.
Bep is forced to stay away from the annex for six weeks because of an outbreak of diphtheria at her house. Margot continues the Latin correspondence course using Bep’s name. Mr. Dussel fights with Mrs. van Daan, who thinks he and the rest of the annex should go to dinner in honor of his first anniversary of living there. Anne notes that Mr. Dussel has not once thanked them for taking him into the annex. At night, she dreams that she sees Hanneli, who asks Anne to rescue her. Anne regrets not treating Hanneli better and feels guilty that she is still relatively safe while Hanneli is suffering.
St. Nicholas Day comes again, and Anne decorates a laundry basket with colorful paper and fills it with shoes. She and her father write verses and put one in each shoe. Anne comes down with the flu and receives an assortment of supposed remedies. Everyone exchanges Christmas and Hanukkah presents, but spirits are low because the war is at an impasse. Anne is still grateful that her situation is better than that of other Jewish children, but she cannot help feeling jealous of Mrs. Kleiman’s children. Her children can go outside and play with friends, while Anne’s family and friends are trapped in the annex like “lepers.”
Anne dreams about Hanneli again and also about her own grandmother. She wonders whether Hanneli is still alive. Later, Anne reads through her diary and is shocked at how negatively she wrote of her mother in past entries. Anne thinks she has grown wiser since then and now understands her mother better. She sees herself as an adolescent now and says that when she is having her period she feels like she has a “sweet secret.” Anne also mentions the ecstasy she feels at seeing a female nude, such as the Venus de Milo statue, and she talks about how she once had a “terrible desire” to kiss a female friend. Now that she has no female friends, she is so desperate for someone to talk to that she begins to confide in Peter van Daan. Anne also dreams about Peter Schiff, an older friend on whom she had a long crush. She tells the story of their relationship and says that she does not need a photograph of Peter because his face is still clear in her mind.
Anne and Peter talk about a cat, Boche. Peter says that Boche is a tomcat and turns the cat over to show Anne his genitalia. Anne says that she knows the female sexual organ is called the vagina, but she does not know what the male sexual organ is called. Peter says he will ask his parents. Anne is impressed that Peter can discuss such things without any shame.
Anne’s dreams in this section demonstrate how deeply the war haunts her. The fears, loneliness, and insecurities that she feels uncomfortable expressing out loud emerge in her dreams about Hanneli and her grandmother. Anne assumes that Hanneli has been deported to the concentration camps. She knows that she is powerless to save her friends, yet she feels guilty that they are suffering and she is not. Despite acknowledging her relatively good fortune thus far, Anne is envious of the non-Jewish children in Amsterdam who can still play and move about freely.
The appearance of Anne’s grandmother in her dream emphasizes Anne’s longing for security. Anne imagines that her grandmother is her guardian angel and will protect her. She attempts to find comfort from the stability of previous generations embodied in the protective, maternal figure of her grandmother. Anne’s dreams reflect the profound feelings of sadness and loneliness that she feels she must put aside for the good of the group. Anne acknowledges the reality of their situation and realizes that if they all succumbed to their feelings of anxiety and depression, living in the annex would become unbearable.
As Anne goes through puberty, we see her becoming more mature, thoughtful, and more aware of her body. Her confinement forces her to struggle with many of the questions of adolescence by herself, since there are no other girls her age with whom she could share her experiences. Thus, the diary becomes an important tool for Anne’s self-discovery and maturity. She starts to feel disconnected from “the Anne of last year” as she looks over past diary entries about her mother, which she now considers the product of her immaturity and girlish moods. Anne has a record of all of her private yet indignant temper tantrums, which allows her to see how much she has changed in such a short time. Writing in the diary allows Anne to express her unkind and indulgent emotions and explore her own personal desires in a way that will not hurt anyone else. Anne’s candor caused Otto Frank to cut many parts of the diary in its original publication. Anne’s judgments, though at times cruel, are an important aspect of her personality and her experiences. Anne’s written outbursts provide a full sense of who she is and how she changes while she is in the annex.
With her diary as her only confidant, Anne misses both her female and male friends, and she thinks often of her love, Peter Schiff. She is drawn to Peter van Daan, since he is the only young man sharing her experience. Anne is naturally curious about Peter because he is a teenage male, and as a girl in puberty, she is fascinated by his body. Anne’s discussion of the cat’s genitalia represents an important moment for her, since it allows her to confront sexuality openly and with a male for the first time. Without female friends to discuss her innermost secrets, Anne learns about herself the only way she can, through introspection and through interactions with her limited environment.