Diary of a Young Girl
March 14, 1944–April 11, 1944
The people who supply food coupons to the annex are arrested. The residents’ only alternative is the black-market ration books they have, and the food they must eat is horrible. Miep gets sick with the flu, and Jan says it is impossible to see a doctor. Anne says that she is more restless than Peter because he has his own room, while she has to share one with Mr. Dussel.
Anne and Margot are both growing annoyed with their parents. Anne complains that her parents are not open about sex and sexuality. She and Margot exchange letters. Margot writes that she is somewhat jealous of Anne’s relationship with Peter, but only because she also wants someone with whom she can share her feelings. Anne is growing happier with her relationship with Peter but cannot fathom ever marrying him.
Anne decides to ask Peter about sex, since she believes “he knows everything,” and later she talks to Margot in the bathroom. Peter overhears them and thinks Anne only spoke to him to tease him, but she tells him it is untrue. Anne says she would like to ask if Peter knows about female genitalia, and she writes a description of her own anatomy in her diary.
Anne’s mother forbids Anne from going up to see Peter because Mrs. van Daan is jealous. Peter invites Margot to come upstairs with Anne. Listening to the radio at the end of March, Anne hears a member of the Dutch government in exile propose a collection of Dutch people’s diaries and letters after the war. Anne writes that everyone in the annex immediately thought of her diary. She wonders what would happen if she published a novel about the annex, and thinks that ten years after the war people would find her diary very interesting. To pass the time, Anne continues writing stories and describes some of them in her diary. She also writes about her hobbies, such as genealogy and mythology. Food is growing scarce and there are no vegetables left.
Anne is talking to Peter one night when another break-in occurs. Mr. van Daan tries to scare the burglars away by shouting “Police!” but the residents see someone shine a flashlight through a gap in the wall and hear footsteps running away. Anne is terrified, thinking the Gestapo is about to come for them. The residents lie on the floor, petrified, and hear footsteps on the stairs and a rattling at the bookcase that hides the door to the annex. The noises stop but someone has left the light in front of the bookcase on.
Mrs. van Daan worries about the police finding the radio downstairs, and Otto Frank worries they will find Anne’s diary. Anne writes, “If my diary goes, I go too.” The adults phone Mr. Kleiman and wait in suspense until a knock comes on the door. They cry with relief when they see it is only Jan and Miep. Anne wonders why the Jews have been singled out for death. She decides that after the war she will become a Dutch citizen because she loves Holland and the Dutch. She writes, “If God lets me live . . . I’ll make my voice heard.”
As the danger increases, Anne’s perspective about her future continues to mature. She continually shifts back and forth between feeling that she is about to die and making plans for her future. The closest encounter thus far with the police makes Anne contemplate death more seriously. The possibility of the family being discovered only increases with time, and the inhabitants take turns contemplating how they will behave when they are arrested. Anne begins to worry that she will not live to accomplish any of the things she hopes to, like writing a novel or pursuing her hobbies. However, she continues to think about her future and decides how she will identify herself after the war.
Although at the beginning of the diary she saw herself as a child, Anne is now beginning to discover her place in the world and see herself as an adult. In an early entry, on June 20, 1942, she had written, “It seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl,” because she did not think her thoughts were important for anyone except herself. Now, however, she is starting to become aware of the broader significance of her experience and realizes the potential value of sharing her words with others. With a newfound understanding of her own mortality, Anne recognizes the injustice of her fate more fully. She also realizes the value of her diary and her personal thoughts, and she expresses her hope that her diary will reach people after the war. Anne’s written words about this hope are what convince her father to share the diary with others.
Otto Frank understandably chose to omit several passages from this section, including those concerning Anne’s sexual curiosity. He believed that these were personal thoughts and were not necessarily suitable for a young-adult audience. These moments in which Anne expresses her sexuality are very important. We see Anne as a girl, rather than a sort of sterilized saint or victimized martyr. While Anne is a unique and remarkable individual with a tragic experience, we also see her as a normal girl, with typical human fears and desires. If Anne’s diary entries focused only on the war or her hiding, we would feel less connected to her tragedy. However, Anne intersperses her thoughts about death and the war with accounts of time spent with Peter and her growing sexuality. We feel a greater connection and identification with Anne, and her tragedy causes even more emotional impact.