The Diary of a Young Girl Essays and Criticism
by Anne Frank

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Anne Frank: Wise and Mature Beyond Her Years

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

The two years Anne Frank spends in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of Holland are an intensely self-analytical time for the young teenager. When her family goes into hiding, she has just turned thirteen years old, and her early entries testify to the fact that her personality and disposition are very typical of a young teenager. She is brimming with confidence to the point of self-centeredness, she is chatty and anxious, and she is intolerant of those who do not accept her. Over the next few years, however, the reader watches a new Anne emerge. This Anne is wiser, more patient, and astonishingly insightful. The intensity of her experience in hiding clearly accelerates her personal development. Anne's maturity is evident in all aspects of her life, including her relationship with her family, her relationships with the other inhabitants of the Secret Annex, her views of herself, her views on religion, and her perceptions of humanity and the world.

Anne's relationships with the members of her family change as she comes to accept each person by seeing him or her more clearly. Anne gets along much better with her father than she does with her mother, but this relationship undergoes a change, too. As part of her adolescence, she must assert her independence from her parents, and that includes her father. In an early entry, dated September 27, 1942, Anne writes, ''Even though our family never has the same kind of outbursts they [the Van Daans] have upstairs, I find it far from pleasant. Margot' s and Mother's personalities are so alien to me. I understand my girlfriends better than my own mother. Isn't that a shame?'' Although Anne and her mother never develop a loving, intimate relationship, Anne progresses from hatred and intolerance to acceptance of her own role in the breakdown of their relationship. On January 2, 1944, she writes:

It's true, she didn't understand me, but I didn't understand her either. Because she loved me, she was tender and affectionate, but because of the difficult situations I put her in, and the sad circumstances in which she found herself, she was nervous and irritable, so I can understand why she was often short with me.

Anne concludes that she and her mother are too different to ever really connect on a meaningful level, and while she is disappointed, she accepts this truth. Further, she realizes that it is better for her to write ''unkind words'' about her mother in the diary than to hurt her mother by saying them aloud.

Initially, Anne thinks of her sister with resentment. She feels that her parents hold Margot up as an example for Anne to follow, but Anne does not feel that she and her sister are much alike. For this reason, Anne maintains a distance from her sister until she is old enough to see that a relationship with her sister can be satisfying. Anne has no older female to whom she can relate until she develops a healthy relationship with Margot.

Anne's relationships with the other hideaways also change as she matures. Anne was the youngest person in the hiding place and therefore had the most changes to undergo. She realizes that she is still in the process of changing and growing but that the adults are generally set in their ways. Writing about Mr. Dussel on July 13, 1943, Anne observes, ‘‘Anyone who's so petty and pedantic at the age of fifty-four was born that way and is never going to change.'' Although she never befriends Mr. Dussel, Mr. Van Daan, or Mrs. Van Daan, she makes peace with their differences. One of the important social skills she learns that enables her to get along with the others in such a cramped space is tact. On July 11, 1943, she notes, ‘‘It's not easy trying to behave like a model child with people you can't stand, especially when you don't mean a word of it. But I can see that a little hypocrisy gets me a lot further than my old method of saying exactly what I think.'' Six months later, she arrives at the decision that the arguments between the...

(The entire section is 15,024 words.)