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The Diary of a Young Girl

by Anne Frank

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How does Anne's relationship with Peter change in The Diary of a Young Girl?

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Anne and Peter initially have no strong connection to each other, as Anne is brash and bold while Peter is quiet and reserved. However, as time goes on, Anne decides to make friends with him as the only other young person in the Annex, and they become incredibly comfortable around each other, eventually developing a physical relationship and leading to Anne's first kiss.

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When Peter first moves into the secret annex, Anne dislikes him from the start. Though she was looking forward to his arrival as another form of company in their quiet home, the reality of the shy, awkward boy is incredibly disagreeable to her. She describes him as lazy and tedious, noting in her second entry about him:

He's an obnoxious boy who lies around on his bed all day, only rousing himself to do a little carpentry work before returning to his nap. What a dope!

As they continue to live together, Anne's frustration with Peter does not change. She tries to tutor him in English, but becomes infuriated by the ridiculous mistakes he makes in his lessons, and she is easily irritated when the grown-ups praise his modesty and mild manners, traits that Anne notably lacks. When she is asked by the Van Daans whether she could ever learn to love Peter like a brother, as he loves her like a sister, she reacts with barely contained disgust.

However, even early on, there are small moments of connection between Anne and Peter. They both enjoy dressing up, and one evening they put on costumes to entertain the other inhabitants of the Annex. Perhaps this is the reason that Anne takes it into her head in the beginning of 1944 to try to become friends with Peter. Her loneliness has become so unbearable that she has to find someone to talk to. She claims she selects Peter because he is the only other young person besides her sister, not out of any sentimental feeling for him:

You mustn't think I'm in love with Peter, because I'm not. If the van Daans had a daughter instead of a son, I'd have tried to make friends with her.

She sits in his room and tries to talk to him, aware of the awkwardness he feels but persisting nevertheless and assuring him that he'll grow more comfortable talking to her over time, even though she is a girl.

Her prediction turns out to be right. Peter is as starved for a sympathetic friend as Anne is and they soon become comfortable talking with each other about anything and everything. They complain to each other about the other inhabitants of the annex and share their thoughts on the war and their lives after they are out of hiding. They study together and become each other's closest confidantes in the annex, often spending time together in Peter's room away from the prying eyes of their families. However, Anne insists that she still harbors no romantic feelings for him:

Don't think I'm in love, because I'm not, but I do have the feeling that something beautiful is going to develop between Peter and me, a kind of friendship and a feeling of trust. I go see him whenever I get the chance, and it's not the way it used to be, when he didn't know what to make of me. On the contrary, he's still talking away as I'm heading out the door.

Yet despite her insistence, her growing feelings for him cannot be denied. She becomes despondent when she doesn't speak to Peter all day and confesses a desire for him to hold her. Part of this may be the fact that the line between Peter van Daan and Peter Schiff, Anne's schoolyard crush, is becoming incredibly blurry. Anne admits that the two have merged into one Peter in her mind that she longs for hopelessly.

Though Anne finally realizes her attraction to Peter, his feelings remain unclear. Sometimes Anne thinks he might feel the same way and at other times she feels he is distant and has more interest in Margo than in her. Eventually, he reveals himself in his own shy, quiet way. Anne and Peter begin sitting with their arms around each other or gently holding each other. The physical relationship develops and they begin to kiss each other when they have time alone in Peter's room. Anne believes that they are in love with each other and relishes in her first experience of romance.

However, the shine soon wears off their relationship. Though they remain close friends, Anne and Peter begin to distance from each other, realizing that they are not as compatible as lovers as they thought.

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Initially, Anne felt suspicion and impatience towards Peter Van Daan whom she believes is excessively lazy and self-centered. Because she must share a small space with him and both his and her family members as well as a family friend, their living quarters were cramped and stifling, which only made matters worse.

At first, Peter was irritating to Anne, but as the long months progressed, her attitude toward Peter became more gentle and affectionate. Their relationship changes once Anne notices that Peter has special and tender feelings towards her. In her loneliness, she reciprocates the feelings, but only for a short time; her feelings towards Peter change again when she feels disappointed by him and by his passivity.

Some readers may argue that once Anne actually took the time to get to know Peter, he became more appealing to her, while other readers will argue that Anne had no choice but to see him as an ally of some description. The two adolescents were stuck in a difficult situation, and perhaps survival dictated that they get along and like each other. Anne's loneliness may have been the reason she decided to experiment with a romantic attachment to Peter that ultimately let her down, once she gave him a chance to show her his real self.

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Anne initially disliked Peter. However, given their unique living situation, Anne eventually develops feelings for Peter. Since they are both teenagers with no other friends in their age group to talk to, their relationship stems from proximity and convenience.

This book explores the theme of adolescence and how it affects Anne's relationships with those around her. Anne's diary contains thoughts and feelings that would go through a young girl's mind. She desires independence from her parents and to seek affection from the opposite sex.

Despite their inherent differences, it's clear that Anne and Peter do adore each other. Their friendship develops during their time in hiding and sustains after they are found by the Germans. Although the romance doesn't last long, the love that stemmed from dire circumstances eventually blossomed into a close connection.

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