The Diary of a Young Girl Themes
Frank was in hiding with her family from age thirteen to age fifteen. Readers find many of her feelings and experiences familiar, indicating that the process of growing up, with all of its pain, joy, and uncertainty, is generally the same regardless of time, place, or situation. Even in normal circumstances, adolescence is an awkward and introspective time, but Frank's extraordinary circumstances add intensity to her maturation. Frank is like most teens in that she struggles with her family, especially her parents. She is at odds with her mother, which is common in adolescence, as girls begin to assert their independence from their mothers. Unlike most teens, however, Frank has no way to distance herself physically from her mother, so the emotional distance widens. Further, Frank's preference for her father is made more obvious by the close quarters, although Frank's need for independence eventually leads her to distance herself from him, too. Frank's relationship with Margot is typical, too; Frank feels that she is unfairly compared to Margot, who is held up as an ideal teenager by Mr. and Mrs. Frank. She writes on July 12, 1942, ‘‘[E]very day I feel myself drifting further away from Mother and Margot. I worked hard today and they praised me, only to start picking on me again five minutes later. You can easily see the difference between the way they deal with Margot and the way they deal with me.’’ Despite the sibling rivalry, the sisters grow closer during the years in hiding as Frank matures and the sisters realize they have more in common than they once had.
Frank's teenage years are unique in that Mr. and Mrs. Frank are fairly progressive in their parenting style, allowing their daughters to express their individuality. The common attitudes of the time are expressed by the other characters (particularly Mrs. Van Daan) who are sometimes horrified by Frank's seemingly undisciplined ways.
At the beginning of the diary, Frank is rambunctious, playful, and intensely curious. Her descriptions of people are typical of adolescents' perceptions. On June 15, 1942, for example, she writes that one of her classmates is ''a detestable, sneaky, stuck-up, two-faced gossip who thinks she's so grown-up.’’ Frank's self-confidence leads her to believe that many of the boys in her class were enamored of her. On June 20, 1942, she writes, ‘‘I have a throng of admirers who can't keep their adoring eyes off me and who sometimes have to resort to using a broken pocket mirror to try and catch a glimpse of me in the classroom.’’ Her interest in the opposite sex, and in appearing attractive to the opposite sex, is completely normal for a girl Frank's age. Faced with the prospect of not meeting any new boys for a long time, her impulse to recall previous admirers is not surprising.
As the diary progresses, Frank gains an increased sense of her own identity apart from her parents. On April 11, 1944, she writes, ‘‘I'm becoming more and more independent of my parents. ... If only I can be myself, I'll be satisfied. I know that I'm a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage!’’ By her last entry, she has arrived at a deeper degree of self-knowledge, and she understands that she still has much to learn about herself and the world. Frank begins to understand herself and her conflicted identity better and to recognize her strengths and weakness, while at the same time she begins to develop a sense of what kind of woman she wants to become.
To many readers, Frank's romance with Peter is predictable. After all, they are both at the age when young people become more aware of their sexuality, and Peter and Frank have only each other with whom to explore those feelings. Although Frank delights in Peter's company and excitedly anticipates seeing him, she knows that they are not really in love. On February 18, 1944, as she and Peter are just beginning their relationship, she writes, ‘‘Don't think I'm...
(The entire section is 1,157 words.)