Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 520
On June 12, 1942, at the height of World War II in Europe, Anne Frank celebrates her thirteenth birthday in hiding from the Nazis. Two days later, she makes her first entry in her new diary. She writes about her birthday celebration and about her gifts, which include the diary. She continues to make regular entries until August 1, 1944, three days before her Jewish family and four other Jews are discovered by German security police in a hiding place—called the Secret Annex—above Anne’s father’s former office at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. Someone had tipped off the police.
On July 13, 1942, one week after the Franks move into their hiding place, they are joined in the Secret Annex by the van Daans and their son, Peter. On November 16, Albert Dussel, a dentist, joins them in hiding.
Anne writes to an imaginary friend named Kitty about how she is maturing as she adapts to living in tense confinement. The Secret Annex is on the top floor of Otto Frank’s former office with the Travis Company. The still-in-business company rents the office space and is staffed by people who are loyal to Otto and his family and who are committed to helping him and the others who are hiding upstairs. The entrance to the Secret Annex is behind a bookcase that can be pulled out to reveal the staircase it hides.
With a perception that belies her youth, Anne records the dynamics and interrelationships of the people who live in this cramped space. Anne has a close relationship with her father, Otto, an intelligent, practical man, but her relationship with her mother, Edith Frank-Holländer, is strained, mostly by the confinement in which the two, and the others, are forced to exist.
The confinement is intensified because the exiles have to keep utterly silent during office hours, lest a visitor hear them moving about. Even though Anne and the others in hiding can move about more freely at night, they must do so in the dark. Any flicker of light detected by passersby might lead to their discovery.
Anne is beginning to feel the stirrings of adolescent sexuality, but she has no one to help her deal with them, except Peter, two years her senior. Anne, who had initially disliked Peter, gradually grows to love him. Within the confining Secret Annex, the two must act with restraint. Peter’s mother is a controlling woman who is often at odds with Anne, frequently ending her stinging criticisms of her with the words “If Anne were my daughter,” to which Anne responds with “Thank heavens I’m not!”
Although Anne is keenly aware of the hazards under which she and the others live, she retains an optimistic attitude and, above all, still believes in the inherent goodness of people. This remarkable adolescent refuses to be overcome by her hatred for her oppressors, the Nazis and their collaborators. She accepts her life with extraordinary courage. On April 11, 1944, Anne writes one of the longest and most exciting entries in the diary: “I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.”
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