What surprisingly nice thing does Mrs. van Daan say about Anne?

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Anne's descriptions of Mrs. van Daan are, for the vast majority of her diary, extremely unflattering. She generally refers to Mrs. van Daan as selfish, stupid, egotistical, continually pessimistic, and so on. However, in January 1944, we see the first flickers of some understanding from Anne toward Mrs. van Daan.

Anne states that Mrs. van Daan does have "one good point": namely, that you can talk to her. She can be reasoned with. Anne determines that many of the arguments that have occurred between Mrs. van Daan and Anne's own mother may have been the fault of Mrs. Frank, and Anne resolves to "speak openly" to Mrs. van Daan about any issues that may arise going forward. This entry displays Anne's emotional maturity and her determination not to simply "ape" her parents' beliefs and feelings.

After this, we see their relationship begin to change. Anne reads Mrs. van Daan some of her stories. Later, Anne says that Mrs. van Daan understands her a little better than her own mother does. Mrs. van Daan teases her about her relationship with Peter by saying, "Can I trust you two up there?" and we read that Anne is now speaking to Mrs. van Daan more often than to her own mother. Anne also depicts some occasions when she and Mrs. van Daan avoid arguments by admitting that they think differently, whereupon Mrs. van Daan backs down, proving Anne's original determination right: arguments can often be avoided.

Yesterday Mrs. van D. was talking about the rice we gave Mr. Kleiman. "All we do is give, give, give. But at a certain point I think that enough is enough. If only he'd take the trouble, Mr. Kleiman could scrounge up his own rice. Why should we give away all our supplies? We need them just as badly."

"No, Mrs. van Daan," I replied. "I don't agree with you. Mr. Kleiman may very well be able to get hold of a little rice, but he doesn't like having to worry about it. It's not our place to criticize the people who are helping us. We should give them whatever they need if we can possibly spare it. One less plate of rice a week won't make that much difference; we can always eat beans."

Mrs. van D. didn't see it my way, but she added that, even though she disagreed, she was willing to back down, and that was an entirely different matter.

Seeing the development of the relationship between Anne and Mrs. van Daan gives an interesting insight into the changing dynamics between people who are forced to live in a confined space together, especially as Anne grows out from under the influence of her mother and becomes a person in her own right. It eventually becomes clear that Mrs. van Daan may not be as "stupid" as Anne had first thought and that they can have a relationship after all.

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