The Diary of Anne Frank

by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett

Start Free Trial

What does Anne mean in her diary when she says, "Paper is more patient than people?"

Quick answer:

In her diary, Anne Frank's statement "Paper is more patient than people" signifies her struggle to express her complex adolescent thoughts and emotions to those around her. Given their confined circumstances, interactions often felt strained, leading Anne to confide in her diary, a neutral and non-judgmental outlet. The diary, unlike her human companions, offered a perfect listener and confidante, providing a space for her to express herself without fear of interruption, feedback, or criticism.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Anne writes in her diary that, "Paper is more patient than people," as a means of expressing the difficulties of sharing her often complex adolescent thoughts, feelings, and experiences with those around her. These circumstances are always difficult for a teenage girl in the process of discovering her womanhood, but they are compounded here by the fact that Anne is sequestered away in hiding with only her immediate family (her mother, father, and older sister) and some family friends. The tight quarters within the Annex and the forced intimacy that results from the political situation outside those four walls results in some of Anne's day-to-day interactions feeling strained. To be in hiding from German forces certainly does not lend itself to organic relationship-building; rather, the high stress and intensity of such a situation creates tension throughout this little tribe. Thus, Anne finds it easier to confide in the neutral, non-judging, non-feeling pages of her diary than in her sometimes puzzling and frustrating human companions. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This quote from The Diary of Anne Frank implies that she finds it easier to be honest in writing (in her diary) than to speak openly with other people. It is true that a journal asks no questions, does not interrupt us, or offer feedback. A journal or diary is effectively a perfect listener and confidante. Anne struggled with a lot of feelings she was afraid to tell her family for one reason or another, so putting these thoughts to paper offered her some relief from them. Sometimes it is the act of writing or saying something to release it that is more valuable than the words actually being heard. 

Anne was sometimes criticized by her family for being too talkative, so it must have been nice for her to be able to express her thoughts and feelings in a way that was not subject to criticism. In the same passage where she shares the saying, "Paper is more patient than man," she admits to feeling like she doesn't have any real friends she can be honest with. While she loves her family and the friends she does have, she feels that these relationships are superficial and that she cannot be truly honest about her feelings.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What does Anne mean when she says paper is more patient than man?

What Anne means by this is that she can be more honest in writing her diary than she can in communicating with other people. She can put down on paper her innermost thoughts, hopes, fears, and dreams, sharing things with her diary that she could never share with anyone else.

This is crucial for someone of Anne's age, especially given her situation. As a teenage girl, she's going through a difficult phase in life, with all the usual problems of adolescence. To make matters even more complicated, she's forced to spend her early teenage years stuck in a cramped annex in order to avoid detection by the Nazis. And while all this is going on, Anne, like so many other girls of her age, feels unable to confide in her parents. That's where the diary comes in. This little book has infinite reserves of patience. It will always be there for her, always ready for whatever Anne has to say, and that's not something that could be said of anyone in her life.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Diary of Anne Frank, what does Anne mean when she writes in her diary, "Paper has more patience than people"? 

The Diary of Anne Frank, also known as The Diary of a Young Girl, was written by a young Jewish girl who was hiding with her family from Nazi persecution. She kept the diary from June 1942 until August 1944, when she and her family were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Anne's comment that "paper has more patience than people" is in the entry for Saturday, June 20, 1942. This is only a few days after she began writing in a red and white checkered blank book that her parents had given her for her thirteenth birthday.

The quotation is part of the explanation she gives for starting and keeping a diary. She says that though later nobody may be interested in the writings of a thirteen-year-old girl, she has some thoughts she feels compelled to express.

I feel like writing, and I have an even greater need to get all kinds of things off my chest.

She confesses that she is surrounded by all sorts of loving people such as her family and other acquaintances, but she doesn't have a true friend in which she can confide.

All I think about when I'm with friends is having a good time. I can't bring myself to talk about anything but ordinary everyday things. We don't seem to be able to get any closer, and that's the problem.

For this reason, Anne invents an imaginary friend named Kitty and addresses the diary to her. The paper in her diary book, represented by Kitty, unlike the real people she knows, has endless patience to listen to and record anything she wants to say. That's why she says that "paper has more patience than people."

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Diary of Anne Frank, what does Anne mean when she writes in her diary, "Paper has more patience than people"? 

Anne’s point is that people can sometimes be impatient with her, but she can write whatever she wants in her diary and complain all she wants to, making her diary seem understanding and compassionate.  Anne describes a saying that “paper has more patience” when she considers that she has never written in a diary, but that writing in a diary allows her to write her innermost thoughts.

Yes, paper does have more patience, and since I'm not planning to let anyone else read this stiff-backed notebook grandly referred to as a "diary," unless I should ever find a real friend, it probably won't make a bit of difference. (Saturday, June 20, 1942) 

Since Anne and her family are in hiding from the Nazis, there is often a lot of conflict. Too many people are in close quarters there.  Even before hiding, Anne and her mother often did not see eye to eye.  Anne felt that her mother was too critical, and her mother felt that Anne was immature or rude.  

The diary was an outlet for Anne.  She could write in it when something upset her, and write about her hopes and dreams.  That is why she named it Kitty, and said it was her only true friend.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on