Diary of a Young Girl
January 28, 1944 (evening)– March 11, 1944
Anne writes that she is growing more bored in the annex and tires of listening to the same stories over and over again. The adults constantly repeat the stories they have heard from Mr. Kleiman, Jan, and Miep, which are mainly stories about other Jews who are in hiding. Anne is very impressed by the Dutch people who are helping Jews hide, since they are risking their own lives in an attempt to save others. She goes downstairs one night and feels that she cannot count on anyone else to support her. However, Anne’s fears vanish as she looks up into the sky and puts her faith in God. She has an intense desire to be alone, but she worries that someday she will be more alone than she would like.
Anne’s personal life has changed considerably since the weekend, when she noticed Peter looking at her “not in the usual way.” The next day, Peter confides that he is often too nervous to speak to people and that he used to beat up people instead of talking to them. Anne is happy to learn that Peter is also temperamental. On Margot’s birthday, Anne and Peter talk again, and Peter says he is sure Britain will go to war against Russia. Peter also adds that he is sorry he was born a Jew. Anne is disappointed to find out that although Peter does not want to be Christian, he wants to make sure no one knows he is Jewish after the war. He says that the Jews are the chosen people, and Anne exclaims, “Just this once, I hope they’ll be chosen for something good!”
Anne starts to enjoy going upstairs to see Peter, and she says her life is much better now that she has something to look forward to. However, she adds that she is not in love. All the same, Anne’s mother does not like the idea of her going upstairs. A few days later, Anne writes that she thinks about Peter all the time and that Peter van Daan and Peter Schiff have melted into one Peter. Anne’s newfound happiness is briefly shaken after another, more serious break-in at the office. It seems that the burglar has a duplicate key.
Anne writes about love, saying that emotional love eventually leads to physical love, and that she considers this a natural progression and does not worry about losing her “virtue.” She imagines that her grandmother is watching over and protecting her. Mrs. van Daan teases Anne about Peter. In a particularly self-reflective entry, Anne thinks back on her life before coming to the annex. She says that her life was heavenly but that she was superficial and very different back then. Anne remarks that her carefree days as a schoolgirl are gone forever, but she does not miss them.
Anne also looks back over her time in the annex and distinguishes different periods in her growing maturity. In 1942, she said that the transition from a life “filled with sunshine” to one of quarrels and accusations made her stubborn and insolent. In 1943 she was sad, lonely and self-critical but then became a teenager and was treated more like a grown-up. She gained a deeper insight into her family and the other members of the annex, and she began to feel more emotionally independent. Now, in 1944, she has begun to discover her longing “not for a girlfriend, but for a boyfriend,” and she has noticed a new depth to her emotions and sense of self. Anne also sadly notes that the police have arrested Mr. M., a man who had provided her family with food. The residents are scared anew when they hear a knock on the wall next door during dinner.
By this point in her diary, Anne has gained a fuller sense of self and a clearer view of her relationships with the people in the annex. She starts signing her diary “Anne M. Frank” instead of simply “Anne,” a sign that she perceives her own coming of age. Anne has matured significantly during her time in the annex, particularly because her family’s time in hiding coincided with Anne’s puberty. In this confined world, Anne has also developed her relationships with her family, because the close quarters have forced her to understand her parents and sister on a deeper level.
Confinement in the annex has changed Peter as well. He opens up to Anne emotionally, whereas he previously used physical force instead of connecting with other people. Anne finds in Peter the confidant for whom she had been longing. She becomes aware of her feelings for the opposite sex, a new aspect of maturity and development as a young woman that changes her entire experience of living in the annex.
With life in the annex becoming more tedious and oppressive, Peter’s empathy and companionship provide Anne with significant emotional and mental relief. Since her physical life is so static and confined, Anne instead begins to look forward to emotional changes such as the development of her feelings for Peter. Because of the physical confinement of the annex, the evolution of Peter and Anne’s relationship is on display for everyone else to see. As Peter becomes an object of desire for Anne, the adults begin to comment on the appropriateness of the relationship, and Mrs. van Daan constantly teases Anne. The lack of privacy forces Anne to confront issues with her family and sexuality long before she would have under normal circumstances.
Anne’s growing maturity is also evident in the increased gravity of her discussions of her life and the war. For the first time, Anne writes seriously about the possibility of her own death, especially as her morale worsens. At the same time, she dreams about life after the war and about her great fortune in having a hiding place. She has become highly introspective and insightful about her own nature, and she begins to reflect on her past development and organize it into stages. Anne uses her diary like a literary timeline of her inner development, which she analyzes and critiques. By criticizing her own past actions and thoughts, she shows her capacity for personal growth and self-awareness, two important aspects of coming-of-age. Anne considers the possibility of her death, but she does not fully come to terms with the fact that the future may not come for her. Though maturing into a young woman, she still retains a measure of youthful innocence and idealism.
Anne and Peter also confront their identity as young Jews, a subject that Anne rarely touches upon in her diary. Anne does not consider the possibility of converting to Christianity and is shocked when Peter says that in the future he will hide the fact that he is Jewish. Anne is proud that she is Jewish and remains optimistic that the Jews will eventually be rewarded for their faith and not persecuted. Peter, however, is ashamed that he is Jewish and wants to separate himself from his past. The discussion that the two share and their different conclusions represent two common but opposite reactions to the Holocaust: a strengthening of Jewish identification versus a willful weakening of an association with Judaism.