What role does the diary play in Anne’s life?
When Anne first begins writing in her diary as a thirteen-year-old girl, she feels that her friends and family all misunderstand her. Thus, she first turns to the diary as a new friend and confidant, counting on the diary to be the sympathetic, nonjudgmental ear she has been unable to find elsewhere. Once she goes into hiding in the annex, Anne feels even more misunderstood. She thinks her mother is cold and callous, and feels that the other adults consider her a nuisance. The diary offers Anne much solace in the annex because she is in need of companionship. Until she befriends Peter, Anne has no one other than her diary with whom she can openly share her fear, anger, sadness, and hope. Anne calls the diary “Kitty,” indicating that she considers it a close friend. She occasionally even writes to Kitty as if the diary were a person who had asked her questions.
Writing diligently in the diary also helps Anne redirect her strong feelings instead of expressing them outright and causing damage to the fragile relationships within the annex. When everyone around her is feeling anxious and tense, Anne turns to her diary for comfort because she does not want to burden the already overtaxed adults with her own concerns. In this way, Anne becomes very independent at a young age.
Moreover, Anne’s constant diary-writing enables her to discover her inner voice and her voice as a writer. The diary gives her a private place to explore and develop her increasingly profound thoughts and ideas. After two years, Anne is able to look back at the invaluable record of her experiences and analyze how she has grown and changed. In this sense, the diary becomes a significant tool for Anne’s maturity.
How does Anne feel about the laws that restrict the Jews’ freedom?
The Franks left Germany to live in Holland because they felt they could escape persecution. After the Germans invaded Holland in 1940, however, the same laws imposed in Germany were extended to the Netherlands. Anne thinks the laws are unjust, but she does not completely understand why the Jewish people have been singled out for this discrimination. She wishes that next time the Jews will be chosen for something good rather than something bad. Anne feels it is unfair that Jews cannot use streetcars, that they must wear yellow stars, and that she must attend a particular school. Nonetheless, she is still optimistic about her family’s safety and feels relatively secure about her future. Anne accepts the restrictions as a fact of life in Amsterdam, and she is thankful to the Dutch people for their sympathy, especially the ferryman, who lets Jews ride the ferry because they are not allowed to ride streetcars.
Once the SS call up for Margot, Anne realizes that she is not safe from the Nazis. Her entire life and worldview is quickly transformed as she is forced into hiding. As Anne hears about more of her friends being taken to concentration camps, her fears grow and she questions why the Jews are being restricted. She also questions why she remains relatively safe while her friends outside have to suffer so much. Anne says that she does not blame the Dutch people for her family’s misfortune, and her sense of perspective allows her to realize that the non-Jewish Dutch also suffer greatly during the war. When she hears that the Dutch are becoming more anti-Semitic, she is disheartened but remains optimistic about humanity.
Does Anne consider her family lucky or unfortunate to be living in the annex?
Anne’s feelings about the annex constantly change. Most of the time, Anne realizes that she and her family are very fortunate to have the annex as a place to hide. She values the kindness and generosity of her father’s non-Jewish colleagues who are risking their lives to provide them with food and supplies. However, Anne often complains about the miserable physical and emotional conditions of the annex, and the confinement bothers her. She misses being able to see nature and the sky and laments that she cannot explore the world. Compared to her formerly comfortable, middle-class life, Anne must live with eight people under severe conditions—she eats rotten potatoes day after day, has no privacy, deals with clashing personalities, and lives in constant fear that the family will be discovered. Most of all, she feels lonely since she has no companions besides Peter in the annex in whom she can confide.
When Anne compares her deprived life to the freedom of non-Jewish Dutch children—a freedom she experienced so recently and took for granted—she feels indignant. However, when she thinks about her Jewish friends and family members who have probably been arrested and sent to concentration camps, such as her friend Hanneli, she feels extremely thankful to still be alive. Anne feels that the Jews as a group are not fortunate and have not been chosen for good things, only bad ones. However, she expresses her conflict over whether she feels fortunate or unlucky about her personal situation. She wonders whether it would have been better to die a quick death than live a confined, tedious, and fearful existence. Anne quickly realizes, however, that she loves life too much and decides she is fortunate that she had the opportunity to evade the Germans.
1. Why do you think Hanneli appears in Anne’s dreams?
2. Is Anne in love with Peter? Why does she feel she can confide in him?
3. How is Anne affected by the various break-ins? How is her response connected to her general mood while in hiding?
4. Do you feel that Anne believes she is going to survive the war? Why or why not?
5. How does Anne mature and develop through the course of her diary?