What is the relationship between Anne and Peter van Daan in The Diary of a Young Girl?

In The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne and Peter's relationship develops into an adolescent romance as they get to know one another in the Secret Annex.

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Anne and Peter are young adults who've been thrown together by the unique circumstances in which they both find themselves. As Jews in Nazi-occupied Holland, they're forced to hide out in a cramped annex in order to avoid the fate of so many of their co-religionists.

Despite the stressful conditions in which Anne and Peter are forced to live, they are still young adults and as such have the normal feelings that one would expect young adults to have. Before long, Anne and Peter have developed romantic feelings for each other. That said, Anne still has the maturity to recognize that this isn't true love, by any means.

One gets the impression that if Anne and Peter hadn't been thrown together like this, then it's unlikely that they would've developed any kind of relationship, no matter how superficial. Even so, Anne feels much better for having Peter around. She can talk to him about anything, something she can't do with any adult.

In a sign of what Anne and Peter really mean to each other, their friendship still remains even after their little romance peters out. This makes life in the cramped confines of the Secret Annex a little easier for both of them.

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Anne and Peter are brought together by bizarre circumstances. Due to their slight age gap and opposing personalities, they likely would not have even been friends in their normal lives. Anne is an outspoken and sensitive person, while Peter is reserved and passive. These qualities initially make Anne contemptuous of Peter. She finds him dull and lifeless. She even thinks he might have more interest in her sister, Margot, than in her. However, over time, she gets to know Peter better and sees there is more to him than his placid demeanor implies.

Eventually, the two develop romantic affections for one another. Both their close proximity in the Secret Annex and the stirrings of teenage sexuality have their part to play in the relationship. Anne finds she can discuss almost any subject with Peter, and the two of them spend time alone, much to the concern of their parents, though Anne admits that their attraction is not true love:

Don't think I'm in love, because I'm not, but I do have the feeling that something beautiful is going to develop between Peter and me, a kind of friendship and a feeling of trust.

This self-awareness and maturity on Anne's part are what ultimately cause Anne and Peter's romance to fizzle out. Luckily, they are still good friends by the end of it.

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At the beginning of their stay together, Anne and Peter were just two people who had to share the same living space. Their paths never overlapped at school because he was a few years older than her and had different friend groups. They also had different personalities; while Anne is clever and loud and, at times, abrasive, Peter is quiet and reserved. Anne soon decides that Peter has no personality and becomes largely indifferent to him.

As their stay grows longer, however, Anne matures and realizes that she is being unfair to Peter. Just because he is quieter and more reserved than her does not mean he has no personality. They both work to get to know one another better and soon develop a mutual attraction. Their parents tease them relentlessly about the relationship, at times disapproving of the private time the two spend together, which embarrasses Anne and Peter. Nevertheless, they continue meeting in the attic room and dream of a future after the war.

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The relationship between Anne and Peter does not begin as an adolescent romance, though it certainly develops into one as Anne continues to write in her diary over the year and half or so that they are together in the annex.

At the beginning, Anne is not impressed with Peter who presents as a shy, lonely young boy. She observes in him a sort of laziness and passivity that she does not respect or understand. Anne is certainly a sensitive and creative young girl, as her writing shows, and she can't see why he is content to be so boring. At this early point in their relationship, they don't really have much of a connection except for the awful circumstances that have brought them together in the first place.

After some time, Anne begins to notice something different about Peter, and she concludes that he likes her in a romantic way. His interest in her seems to inspire her to reciprocate, and their relationship changes for a short time. She fantasizes about true love and marriage and wonders if Peter could be a good husband for her in the future. This burst of affection is short-lived, however, as Peter's former passivity returns, disappointing Anne, and they separate, agreeing that they will not argue with each other in the future.

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