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The Diary of a Young Girl

by Anne Frank

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Describe the relationship between Anne and her mother in The Diary of a Young Girl.

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The relationship between Anne and her mother in The Diary of a Young Girl is difficult. Anne feels that Edith favors Margot, Anne's sister, over her and does not understand her. Living in such close quarters in the secret annex contributes to their strained relationship.

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The relationship between Anne and her mother, Edith, is, for the most part, quite difficult. It's often the case that teenage girls will have difficult relationships with their mothers, but the added stresses and strains of life in the secret annex make things that little bit more fraught for Anne and her mother.

Much of the tension seems to emanate from Edith's perceived partiality toward Anne's sister, Margot. Margot can do no wrong in Edith's eyes; she's very much the apple of her eye. Yet whatever Anne says or does never seems good enough for Edith, who's almost always on her case about something or other. No wonder that Anne loudly laments her mother's lack of understanding toward her.

Because of the breakdown in relations between mother and daughter, Anne has to mature pretty quickly. She effectively has to mother herself, as Edith seems unwilling and unable to fulfill her maternal duties toward her daughter. Yet at the same time, Edith seeks to exert control over Anne at every available opportunity, especially when it comes to Anne's burgeoning relationship with Peter. In doing so, she's acting the part of a mother rather than being a proper mother to Anne, a mother who understands what her daughter's going through.

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Anne and her mother, Edith, are constantly having what Anne refers to as "bust-ups" (September 27, 1942). A young teenager, Anne is constantly angry with her mother, and they fight often. Anne feels that her mother treats her like a baby, and this irritates Anne immensely. Having to live in the close quarters of the secret annex does not improve the situation, and Anne feels that her father is more sympathetic to her. She feels her mother does not understand her and writes, "I can understand my friends better than my own mother—too bad!" (September 27, 1942). She also believes that her mother always takes Margot's side in any argument. Anne plays a role in this drama, as she claims to be too busy reading and studying French to help her mother when her mother has a headache (October 3, 1942). Clearly, both Edith and Anne are to blame for their turbulent relationship. 

Anne feels that people in the annex are constantly finding fault with her. While she often fights with her own mother, Anne really resents Mrs. Van Daan and what she feels are Mrs. Van Daan's criticisms of her. In fact, her mother and father often defend Anne against Mrs. Van Daan, showing that Anne's mother is not always as critical as Anne claims. 

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Anne Frank, from her diary, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is revealed as a headstrong girl, enthusiastic and with a positive outlook. However, she is largely misunderstood, especially by her mother who Anne feels blames her for everything.  

Anne can sense her growing distance from her mother and Margot "and yet every day I feel myself drifting further away from Mother and Margot." She feels as if "I don't fit in with them" (Sunday July 12 1942). Anne and her mother have a different opinion of everything to the point of being "alien to me." (Sunday September 27 1942). Anne feels that "she is not a mother to me - I have to mother myself." (Saturday November 7 1942)

Anne does come to an understanding of her mother when, on one occasion her mother offers to say prayers with her as her father is not able to but Anne rejects her and 

her face contorted with pain, and she said, "I don't want to be angry with you. I can't make you love me!" A few tears slid down her cheeks as she went out the door.

At the same time, Anne has suffered from her mother's cruel words and feels she must be honest even though she knows how it saddens her mother and,in fact, her father. She feels that she must be truthful and that, in time, her mother will realise the part she played. Anne therefore remains "silent and aloof." 

Just as my heart sinks every time I hear her harsh words, that's how her heart sank when she realized there was no more love between us. (Friday August 2 1943)

The example that her mother sets concerns Anne and she will always love her father and tolerate her mother. She even calls her mother "Momsy" or "Moms"  (Friday December 24 1943) sometimes as she feels the name "mom" should be reserved for a mother who understands.  Anne does come to a realization that she has been very hard on her mother and she has realized that her mother makes fun of her as a friend might, never being protective as a mother should. However, "the period of tearfully passing judgment on Mother is over." (Sunday January 2 1944)

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From Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, describe Anne's relationship with her mother.  

Anne is the second of two daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. Otto Frank. Anne's older sister Margot is 16 years old in 1942 when the diary begins and Anne is just 13. Since Margot is more mature, and not the baby of the family, it seems as if Anne's mother treats her with more dignity. Anne's biggest complaint throughout the book is that her mother treats her like a baby and loves Margot more. As a result, Anne refuses her mother's attempts to show affection or concern and she says that she loves her father the most out of anyone in the world. In the entry dated 7 November 1942, Anne reveals the following feelings about her mother:

"We are complete opposites in everything, so naturally we are bound to run up against each other. I don't pronounce judgment on Mummy's character, for that is something I can't judge. I only look at her as a mother, and she just doesn't succeed in being that to me; I have to be my own mother . . . because I have in my mind's eye an image of what a perfect mother and wife should be; and in her whom I must call 'Mother' I find no trace of that image" (45).

This passage is powerful because Anne basically declares that her mother is a failure at motherhood. Anne never truly feels as though she understands her mother; but by 1944, she at least starts to grow from her bitter feelings towards her mother and strives not to hold a grudge. She realizes that her mother has gone through many stresses and anxieties in life, and while in hiding, that she understands when her mother has not responded as she would have liked. Ann also comes to the understanding that her own responses to her mother may have been too serious at times. The relationship between Anne and her mother never turns into what she would call perfect, but she does say the following:

"The period when I caused Mummy to shed tears is over. I have grown wiser and Mummy's nerves are not so much on edge . . . so we appear to get on much better together" (128).

This is good for Anne to learn about how to show more maturity towards her mother; however, she never really loves her, either. At least Anne and her mother find a way to establish peace between the two of them and to stop the yelling and arguing that once plagued their relationship.

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