Compare and contrast Anne’s relationship with her mother to that with her father in The Diary of Anne Frank.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Diary of Anne Frank sheds light on the life of a young Jewish girl in hiding during World War II. While much of her situation is unusual, there are still many things that Anne experiences just like any other adolescent. Anne experiences the trials of sisterhood, intimacy with someone...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The Diary of Anne Frank sheds light on the life of a young Jewish girl in hiding during World War II. While much of her situation is unusual, there are still many things that Anne experiences just like any other adolescent. Anne experiences the trials of sisterhood, intimacy with someone she likes, and—perhaps most normal of all—very dynamic relationships with her parents.

From the beginning of their time in hiding, Anne has a close relationship with her father, Otto Frank, often lovingly referring to him as Pim. It is Otto who gave his daughter the famous diary in which Anne details their time in hiding and which will be published after the war. In one of her very first entries, Anne describes talking to her father about staying safe in hiding, and her tone indicates that she feels safe and at ease knowing that they are in hiding together. Her mother, on the other hand, is described as “unbearable” in the very same entry. “She insists on treating me like a baby, which I loathe,” Anne writes. Like most girls her age, Anne resents her mother for attempting to coddle and care for her. When expressing concern or care for her daughter, Mrs. Frank is very often dismissed or met with aggression from Anne.

Much of this aggression toward her mother seems to be rooted in the fact that Anne perceives her older sister, Margot, to be the “perfect” daughter. Like many younger siblings, Anne feels that she is constantly compared to her older sister, especially by her mother. In an argument Anne documents between herself and her mother, she writes that she feels like everything her sister does is right and everything she does is wrong. She believes that her mother is “against her” and that Margot is the better-liked daughter. Often Otto appears in Anne’s diary to come to her aid in conflicts with her mother. He is the parent that “gets her.” In January of 1944, after roughly a year and a half in hiding, Anne writes, “Mother still does not understand me. But then I don’t understand her either.” During their time in the annex, their relationship is unchanged.

At this same time, Anne and Peter Van Daan begin to grow close, finding comfort in having someone the same age to share their experiences with. This budding relationship leads to arguments early on between Anne and her mother. Mrs. Frank practically begs Anne to show some modesty and talk with Peter in the common area, not behind closed doors. Anne stays true to her feelings and tells her mother that she is not doing anything wrong and does not care what anyone, especially the nosy Mrs. Van Daan, has to say about her and Peter.

One can infer that an underlying reason why Anne and her mother continuously butt heads is that they are both stubborn and act on emotions. In this particular argument about Peter, Mrs. Frank fears how the situation looks and how her daughter's actions are observed by others, while Anne fears that the one friend she has will be taken from her. Both women are firm in their opinions and stand their ground before Otto steps in. Often, Otto is described as comforting Anne after arguments with her mother, or getting between the two of them in a disagreement with a simple “Anne, please.” He acts as a peacemaker between his wife and their youngest daughter.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Anne loves both of her parents but seeks comfort and knowledge from her father over her mother. Anne is the more rebellious, romantic of the two Frank daughters. Margot does as she is told, and she loves and respects both of her parents equally. Anne lashes out at her mother, partly because of her age (being a normal teenage girl) and partly due to their circumstances—being holed up in an attic with the same handful of people for over two years certainly would grate on a person.

Otto (Anne's father) and Anne have a unique relationship. They are both intellectual, and through their school lessons, Anne comes to have a different level of respect for Otto than for Edith (her mother). It is clear that Margot is the more "domestic" daughter, like Edith, whereas Anne longs to have experiences outside of the home. Their lessons bond Otto and Anne because Anne is able to learn about history and the outside world that she no longer feels connected to.

When Otto learns of his family's deaths, though he is certainly devastated to lose them all, he is arguably most distraught to find out of the death of Anne. Anne was vibrant, full of life, and incredibly intelligent and introspective for her young age. Otto tried his best to foster this creativity in Anne despite their circumstances, whereas Edith often had arguments with Anne about her being loud or disruptive in the annex. Anne and Otto have a deep level of mutual respect and adoration for one another. Otto publishes Anne's diaries to immortalize her and allow her to have her impact on the world—an impact she may have had anyway were her life not stolen from her.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Anne's relationship with her mother has some similarities with her relationship with her father.  She does love them both as her parents, and does understand that her mother is trying her best with Anne.  I believe that her relationship with her mother is much like any mother with a 13 year old; as the child grows toward adulthood and begins the process of becoming an adult herself, conflict does occur.  The close confines of the Annex make it doubly hard for Anne and her mother to relate.  Her relationship with her father is loving and understanding.  He teaches her, laughs with her, and is more relaxed with her.

The contrast between Anne's relationship with her mother and father is quite pronounced.  Anne always turns to her father for comfort even though she knows it hurts her mother.  When Anne has the nightmare and wakes screaming, her mother arrives first and Anne asks for her father.  Anne gets her schooling from her father which is a normal activity.  When Anne makes noise just because she is 13, her mother scolds her which makes Anne feel like she cannot do anything which pleases her mother. 

At the end of the story or the beginning of the play, we find out that the only survivor of The Annex is the father.  He is anxious to find any of his family but most of all, he hopes that Anne is still alive.  This illustrates for us as nothing else does, that Anne's relationship with her father was as strong for him as it was for her.  This is the death that truly shakes him to the core.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team