How did the Van Daans, the Franks, and Mr. Dussel change physically and emotionally from the start of the play to the beginning of Act 2 in The Diary of Anne Frank?
When the play’s actions begins in Act 1, Scene 2, the new inhabitants of the annex of relatively healthy and relieved to be safe. By Act 2, they are careworn, threadbare and thinner and fight amongst themselves.
Mr. Van Daan, “a tall, portly man in his late forties,” is smoking a cigarette, and his clothes are “expensive and well cut.” His wife is described as “a pretty woman.” Mr. Frank’s “movements are brisk, his manner confident” and Mrs. Frank is described as young. Dussel arrives later, and he is “a man in his late fifties, meticulous, finicky.”
In Act 2, all of the people in the annex are shivering. Anne notes that they “are all a little thinner” and they are definitely cautious. They are also starting to get on one another’s nerves, arguing and fighting.
Although there are plenty of physical changes as everyone gets thinner and older, worn down from worry, the emotional changes are severe. Anne notes that the Van Daans fight regularly, and the incident with the cake shows that everyone is touchy. They are ready to accuse each other of things like not dividing food equally. It is harder to have hope.