The Diary of Anne Frank

by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett

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What does Anne Frank mean by "freedom after five"?

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One thing to keep in mind when answering this question is Anne Frank's age during the time that she is writing her diary: she is a young teenager. Speaking as a father of three, one of the worst punishments I can dish out is confining my children to a small...

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space that prevents them from moving around. Just sitting completely still through a 40 minute speech of any kind is akin to torture. Anne Frank has to do this day after day forhours at a time.

When five in the afternoon and later rolls around, the family is given a special "all clear" signal. That signal means it is safe for the family to move around, talk above a whisper, and even leave their small hiding area. The freedom that Anne Frank is referring to is a freedom to talk in a normal voice, freedom to walk and run, freedom to laugh and giggle, freedom to be a kid, and freedom to forget her family's dire circumstances.

Five-thirty. Bep’s arrival signals the beginning of our nightly freedom. Things get going right away. I go upstairs with Bep, who usually has her dessert before the rest of us.


Five forty-five. Bep leaves. I go down two floors to have a look around: first to the kitchen, then to the private office and then to the coal bin to open the cat door for Mouschi.

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When revealing the times when it is appropriate to speak louder, be able to play, and use other rooms in the house, Anne Frank (from The Diary of Anne Frank) refers to this time as "freedom after five." At five o'clock, all of the factory/warehouse workers leave for the day. As a result, the children no longer have to worry about making too much noise or interrupting the workers with their playing. They are free to play as children do and explore the offices and other rooms (Anne's "Secret Annexe"). 

Anne tells of Bep's arrival signaling their "nightly freedom." The children case the cats, go into offices they are not supposed to be in, all while dinner is begun. Three taps on the walls signals dinnertime. Essentially, the freedom after five is a time where Anne is allowed to remember that she is still a child. After five, Anne is allowed to play and explore as normal children do. This time is special for her because it allows her the normalcy needed in her life. 

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