What is the primary theme in The Diary of Anne Frank?What is the primary theme in The Diary of Anne Frank?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that you can find many themes in Anne Frank's diary.  For my bet, I would say that the primary theme would be the struggle between good and evil.  Anne's diary is a study in human morality.  While she is writing about her own thoughts, filled with hope because she struggles to live, she is immersed in one of the worst periods in human history.  The theme of contrasting the good in her heart and in her perceptions with the evil that surrounds and envelops her is of vital importance to the message of the diary.  Anne might not have been aware that she was writing a landmark of Western literature, but her diary is a study of the struggle that exists in all human beings between good and evil, condemnation and redemption, eros and thanatos, the forces of life and the death instinct.  She does not make any sweeping generalizations about either, and this is why the struggle between good and evil becomes such an important theme in the diary.  In understanding this ever present struggle, Anne's diary gives the reader much to think about in how we, as human beings, stand on the issue of hope and despair:

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

These last lines of the diary bring to light the critical theme that frames not only her diary, but how we, as students of the Holocaust, struggle to understand human nature in the face of such sorrow and such resilience.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is exactly what the title implies - the record of a young girl's thoughts and reactions as she enters the physical and emotional transition period between childhood and adulthood while living in a very threatening situation.

Through her writings, we gain insight into the ways in which she experienced the changes in her perceptions of herself, of others, and of relationships between herself and others, especially with her parents and with Peter. Because her options for other activities are limited, she has a great deal of time for introspection. Her diary is the record of the deep analysis and thought she is able to give to her maturation process.

The diary also records the dangers of being a Jewish girl, part of a Jewish family, in hiding from the Nazis in Germany during WWII. She is acutely aware of the risks, sacrifices, and hardships being endured by herself and her family and by others. In spite of this, she remains positive and hopeful that a better life is in her future.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The thematic coinciding of a personal world with the outer world is unique.  And, it is certainly interesting how Anne relates her small world to the larger one that lies in wait for her family and the Van Daans, especially regarding the theme mentioned in the previous post, that of redemption and condemnation.

Read the study guide:
The Diary of a Young Girl

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