In Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, Anne and others are confined to the small, upper rooms of the Annex; she has no friends. What other social changes did Anne encounter while she...

In Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, Anne and others are confined to the small, upper rooms of the Annex; she has no friends. What other social changes did Anne encounter while she was confined for two years and one month?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (the author) is faced with many social changes. During this growing time, it is difficult for Anne to deal with the other adults within the Annex who are not always the easiest to get along with. And because the Annex is so small, as noted there is little relief from the crowded living arrangements. In her diary, Anne writes:

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.

This is, of course, impossible for her; so she strives to deal with these difficulties by immersing herself in her writing, where the problems of the world fade into the background:

I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.

Anne's writing shows her struggle for independence, wanting to be considered an adult even though she does not act like one. The growth of her character and her tenacity throughout the social struggles she faces are seen in her comment:

People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn't stop you from having your own opinion.

There are certainly enough people in the Annex that elucidate the difficulties Anne faces, either because of her own attitudes or those of the people with which she lives so closely.

As with any youngster, Anne struggles to get along with her mother who scolds her often and presents Anne's older sister Margot as an ideal to which Anne should strive to copy.

In a place where the food will become increasingly limited in supply, Anne notes that Mr. van Daan "takes a generous portion of whatever he likes…never fails to give his opinion…his word is final." Anne notes that if anyone disagrees with the man, he will fight back, hissing like a cat…something having seen once, she never wants to see again. Anne's young age makes dealing with strong personalities in tight quarters (as she is striving to achieve personal independence) a problematic task. She notes that Mr. van Daan is intelligent but full of himself. The reader can imagine that he would be a difficult person for a young girl to share her "space" with.

Mrs. van Daan, or "Madame," is a person that allows the reader to see the kind of upbringing Anne has had. When she would describe the woman to her fictional friend (the imaginary recipient of Anne's writings), the way she describes others, she notes that being polite would be a better course to follow.

Madame. Actually, the best thing would be to say nothing.

However, Anne does (not surprisingly) share her opinion. She sees Madame as a primary source of discord. She has foul moods, and Anne notes that while no one verbally acknowledges Mrs. van Daan's part in creating enmity, the woman is an instigator. She wants the best for herself at meals: ironically, she accuses Anne of doing what she herself is guilty of—taking the "tastiest morsel, the tenderest bit of whatever there is." Anne also blames the woman for creating difficulties between Anne and her mother. It is easy to imagine that Anne's struggle with Mrs. van Daan also reflects Anne's inability to be the adult she wants to be. For while Margot and Mr. Frank seem to avoid difficulty with Madame, Anne and her mother do not. Mrs. van Daan shares her opinions and Anne struggles to live with the woman's interference. Anne's mother, of course, takes Anne to task to be proper in her behavior towards the adults in the Annex. In Anne's immaturity, she sees little difference between her mother and Mrs. van Daan other than the jobs they perform within their small community.

According to Anne, Dussel is interested solely in eating, napping and taking long, "regular sessions" in the bathroom repeatedly throughout the day while everyone else has to wait. Dussel finds Anne's rambunctious behavior difficult to handle, allowing the reader to understand that, again, Anne struggles with the society of the other members of the Annex most probably because of her age and limited knowledge of the finer points of learning to coexist with others.

These kinds of descriptions show us that Anne is keenly observant, but they also demonstrate how Anne struggles to navigate her way through the social changes that have developed in her young life: first with their initial move into the Annex, again when Dussel joins their numbers, and as food becomes more scarce and fear of discovery heightens. Through it all, by the end of her writing "she has developed maturity and confidence."

Read the study guide:
The Diary of a Young Girl

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