The Diary of Anne Frank

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Themes and Colors
Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Human Nature: Generosity and Greed Theme Icon
World War II: Fear, Suffering, and Hope Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Diary of Anne Frank, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Growing Up Theme Icon

Given that Anne's diary begins just as Anne hits adolescence, The Diary of a Young Girl is as much a story about growing up as it is a story of Jewish experience in World War II. In spite of her extraordinary circumstances, Anne grapples with many normal problems of adolescence: feelings of isolation, rebellion, and alienation; curiosity about adulthood; shifting attitudes towards those she once loved and admired (she realizes that her mother will never live up to her expectations, for example); mood swings; curiosity about sex and love; etc.

As Anne matures emotionally and physically (she gets her first period while living in the Annex), she begins to recognize her shift from childhood into adolescence; her thinking becomes more nuanced and she begins to understand how limited her understanding was when she first began writing her diary. This is clearly evidenced in Anne's predilection for going back and commenting on her earlier entries. In one entry, she seems almost embarrassed by her younger self. "I wouldn't be able to write that kind of thing anymore," she observes. "My descriptions are so indelicate."

She grows close to Peter van Daan, and through their relationship her ideas about love, sex, and friendship become more mature and sophisticated. At the same time, Anne begins to reflect on her place in the world, without yet beginning to develop answers to these questions: does she feel more Jewish or German? What sort of God does she believe in? What kind of life does she want to live? Through her questions and honesty, Anne builds a remarkable portrayal of a growing girl.

Growing Up ThemeTracker

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Growing Up Quotes in The Diary of Anne Frank

Below you will find the important quotes in The Diary of Anne Frank related to the theme of Growing Up.
Year 1942 Quotes

Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I've never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Oh well, it doesn't matter. I feel like writing, and I have an even greater need to get all kinds of things off my chest.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Shortly after beginning her diary with entries about her birthday, on Saturday, June 20th, 1942, Anne Frank reflects on this process of diary writing. Her comments strike with tragic irony; millions will indeed find her musings important and interesting because they will become the most poignant voice of the Holocaust for later generations. Anne may indeed only be a "thirteen-year-old schoolgirl," but she will later become a voice for so many individuals who will die without the ability to share their final thoughts or words. With such an innocent opening to her diary, Anne first introduces herself as the naive narrator she initially will be.


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Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, and I'm terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we'll be shot. That, of course, is a fairly dismal prospect.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Anne and her family have now confined themselves in hiding within the "Secret Annexe," trying to escape being arrested or killed for their Jewish identity. At this point the plot becomes more fraught with danger and fear, but Anne's tone of voice takes time to catch up; for instance, being discovered and shot is merely "a fairly dismal prospect," not a possibility that she seems to have really accepted yet. Anne's shock comes through her writing -- she mentions that she is terrified and upset, yet these feelings are still inexpressible (she feels "more than I can say"). This suggests how intimate diary writings can be: they do not only reveal what happens to the writer through the writer's explicit words, but they also reveal the writer's emotional states through what the writer does not say. 

I don't fit in with them, and I've felt that clearly in the last few weeks. They're so sentimental together, but I'd rather be sentimental on my own. They're always saying how nice it is with the four of us, and that we get along so well, without giving a moment's thought to the fact that I don't feel that way.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker), Kitty, Otto Frank ("Pim"), Edith Frank
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

On a Sunday in mid-July, Anne reflects on the petty difficulties which distance herself from other members of her family. She feels that her mother treats her differently than her sister Margot; her mother is more likely to fight or disagree with Anne when Anne does simple actions like rewriting words on her mother's shopping list. (Of course, we don't see any of the other family members' perspectives, and it may be that the parents saying "how nice" it is for them to all be together is an attempt to put a brave face on a deadly situation.)

In the cramped space of the annex, Anne feels more isolated than ever; here, all of the aspects which emotionally separate her from her family members are magnified and exaggerated. Anne is more together with her family than she has ever been before, yet this leads to her feeling more alone. At the same time, she is obviously going through her teenage years while in these extraordinary circumstances, and so feels a teenager's typical angst that her family doesn't understand her -- all while she's trapped with them in a small space. As the narrative continues, we will also see how such physical closeness leads to more emotional distance and confrontation.

I think it's odd that grown-ups quarrel so easily and so often and about such petty matters. Up till now I always thought bickering was just something children did and that they outgrew it.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker), Otto Frank ("Pim"), Edith Frank, Hermaan van Daan, Petronella van Daan
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Much of Anne's descriptions of daily life in the Secret Annexe in late September are riddled with fights between various inhabitants of this confined space. For example, on September 27, Anne mentions quarrels between her and her mother, her and her sister Margot, and her and Mrs. Van Daans. The following day, Anne begins by claiming she has another quarrel to describe, but then inserts a lengthy reflection about the unspoken similarities between adults and children and the overwhelmingly "petty" nature of so many disagreements. This meditation exemplifies Anne's uncanny maturity; she is barely an adolescent, but she accurately finds flaws in the interactions among adults. Her diary addresses universal yet petty human conflicts, as well as the Holocaust, one of recent history's greatest tragedies.

Now that I'm rereading my diary after a year and a half, I'm surprised at my childish innocence. Deep down I know I could never be that innocent again, however much I'd like to be.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

Anne's diary is a structurally unusual text in that its narrator can (and does) read and reflect on earlier moments of the narrative as it continues, but she doesn't revise the earlier text. Anne's voice is self-conscious as it attains greater maturity and loses its devotion to little charms such as the presents which occupied the diary's first entry. Instead of desiring new possessions or relationships, Anne begins to simply long for her former way of life, and the innocence that accompanied it -- and as she describes this longing, she directly defines the naïveté that pervaded the earliest entries of this diary.

Oh, I'm becoming so sensible! We've got to be reasonable about everything we do here….I'm afraid my common sense, which was in short supply to begin with, will be used up too quickly and I won't have any left by the time the war is over.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Within her last entry from 1942, Anne describes how she must resist engaging in pranks that might offend Dussel, the man sharing her bedroom. Although she desires to disconnect the lamp or hide his clothes, for instance, she knows that such endeavors would merely aggravate him and stir up trouble within the confined Secret Annexe. As Anne maturely chooses to "keep the peace," she notices another change in herself (continuing her self-consciousness about her self-improvement): she is transforming into a more sensible individual, who focuses on her societal context as well as her inner impulses. We still, however, see the same cheery wit that caused her to describe her discovery and death as "a fairly dismal prospect"; she cheekily comments that she won't have any sensibleness left after the war ends. Anne maintains her wit and reveals her hope that the war will end.

Year 1943 Quotes

Sometimes I think God is trying to test me, both now and in the future. I'll have to become a good person on my own, without anyone to serve as a model or advise me, but it'll make me stronger in the end.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

Although these statements melodramatically follow a description of her parents' failings, they suggest how Anne's diary does thematically center on suffering: it details one girl's psychological suffering inside a confined, stifling space, foreshadows that girl's now famous experience of suffering and death in a concentration camp, and is understood as a representation of the suffering of the entire Jewish people during World War II. Yet, the diary also places the topic of suffering within the notions of growing up and facing isolation. Does Anne suffer so that she can develop as a person and become sympathetic and stronger? Is she placed in a setting without role models as a test, so she can improve more fundamentally, on her own? Anne raises these questions but cannot answer them, just as the broader Jewish community cannot answer a more tragic series of questions about why a supposedly benevolent God would allow them to experience such suffering and isolation from the rest of European society.

I sometimes wonder if anyone…will ever overlook my ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I'm Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

On Christmas Eve of 1943, Anne indulges in a behavior she believes is "ungrateful": complaining about lacking the amusements and everyday activities which other teenagers such as Jopie are able to experience. She writes again of the specific features of a teenager's fun -- bicycles, dancing, whistling, tea -- and cherishes them in their absence. Here, she also focuses on the future, even wondering what future individuals might think of her writing as she ponders how her thoughts might seem ungrateful to other people. This hesitancy to appear and be ungrateful of what she does possess suggests Anne's continued personal growth, as well the increase of her hardships.

Year 1944 Quotes

The period of tearfully passing judgment on Mother is over. I've grown wiser and Mother's nerves are a bit steadier. Most of the time I manage to hold my tongue when I'm annoyed, and she does too; so on the surface, we seem to be getting along better. But there's one thing I can't do, and that's to love Mother with the devotion of a child.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker), Edith Frank
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

After consuming so many of her entries with complaints about her mother's faults, and even a refusal to pray alongside her mother at night, Anne describes how both she and her mother have changed during their residence in the annex. Anne is "wiser," but her mother is only "steadier"; Anne is still slightly favoring her own perspective over that of her mother. Yet Anne also further builds on this narrative contrast between interior and exterior lives. "On the surface," she and her mother have improved, as Anne redefines. Actually, Anne and her mother still lack the internal relationship a mother and daughter should have. Anne's stubbornness (which makes her such an inspirational individual) also affects her ability to truly feel "devotion" to her mother.

Which of the people here would suspect that so much is going on in the mind of a teenage girl?

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

On January 12th of 1944, Anne details her new "dance and ballet craze" and describes that her mother has been reading a book which supposedly treats adolescent issues very well. Anne ironically comments that her mother might take more interest in the adolescent issues of her own daughters. Anne has never felt close to her mother, who always seemed to give snappy retorts in response to to her efforts to chat and be pleasant. Now, though, Anne thinks she has a savior: Peter, the object of her adolescent affections and lusts. Anne wonders who would suspect that so much is going on within her mind. This is also ironic, although Anne may not know it, because most adolescents go through the same issues -- frustrating relationships with parents, exciting first loves, and feelings that they think no one else suspects or understands. Yet not many adolescents can describe their experiences with Anne's wit, clarity, and wisdom. 

I think spring is inside me. I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I have to force myself to act normally. I'm in a state of utter confusion, don't know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know I'm longing for something…

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hanneli Goslar
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

One Saturday in February, Anne has a longing -- perhaps to go outside, or to at least feel it be spring outside in a few weeks. Perhaps she wishes more than usual for the war to be over. In two days, though, this amorphous longing will be partially appeased when her connection with Peter begins to enliven. This suggests that, maybe, Anne's unexplained longing here exists because she believes that Peter is interested in Margot, and she is feeling the longings of a typical adolescent girl who is thinking about a boy. This young romance inserts a fresh dimension into the narrative, which is surprising in a story often so overshadowed by death.

Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

Anne advocates that humanity must undergo a transformation, a "metamorphosis" -- all people (not merely politicians and soldiers, but also every common person) must change so that events such as the Holocaust never occur again. Anne then narrows her scope to her own current transformation, and as she describes her adolescent maturation, she describes it like a blossoming part of nature. She credits this attitude to her own characteristics -- her "happiness," "cheerful disposition," and "strength," and suggests that her intentionally optimistic outlook allows her to interpret the events and people surrounding her in more positive ways, which allow her to then undergo further growth. Inner personality and positive outcomes are mutually reinforcing, according to the perspective which Anne advocates -- a perspective made all the more powerful because of the circumstances in which she reaches this conclusion.   

I'm becoming more and more independent of my parents. Young as I am, I face life with more courage and have a better and truer sense of justice than Mother. I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love. If only I can be myself, I'll be satisfied. I know that I'm a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage!

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker), Otto Frank ("Pim"), Edith Frank
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Anne's diary is subtitled "the Diary of a Young Girl" in its published form, here Anne defines herself as a woman. Anne certainly had grown in the narrative up to this point, and produced some of her maturest and most famous reflections about life in general, but here she unconsciously reveals her continuing bit of immaturity as she faults her mother (yet again) in comparison with herself. Of course, this is a more indirect way of criticizing (by calling herself superior), but it continues the conflict between mother and daughter which has pervaded the narrative so far.

How noble and good everyone could be if, at the end of each day, they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day and, after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal. Everyone is welcome to this prescription; it costs nothing and is definitely useful. Those who don't know will have to find out by experience that "a quiet conscience gives you strength!"

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 326
Explanation and Analysis:

During July 6th of 1944, Anne describes how Peter is beginning to emotionally depend and "lean" on her, against her wishes. Peter is a "poor body" who is spiritually lost, emotionally searching, and lacking confidence about his own abilities. Anne reflects that religious beliefs can help individuals stay on their "right path," not out of fear of God but rather out of paying attention to their own inner conscience. She then introduces and advocates for her own sort of spiritual practice: a daily examination of conscience about one's behavior that day, one's "rights and wrongs." Like most of Anne's suggestions, this is universal to the human experience and is unrelated to social processes such as economy, politics, and reputation. Removed as she is from much of society, Anne chooses to focus on internal experience. 

It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering, and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold onto my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realize them!

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 333
Explanation and Analysis:

This is one of Anne's most famous passages. She writes it in the middle of July 1944, less than a month before she and the other members of the annex are discovered. With these words, she connects the individual narrative of her life with "the suffering of millions," a suffering she observes as a penetrating and compassionate witness to the interior experiences that occur in all of humanity, even the humanity outside of her enclosure's walls. She also frames her words in the lexicon of nature; we get the sense that she is stunningly connected to the natural world, although (or perhaps because) she is so entirely severed from it during her daily experience. She reaches a depth of understanding that few can reach amid the distraction and tumult of the world outside, although the wisdom she provides us does not make the sacrifice of her life any less tragic.

So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She's never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I'm alone. I know exactly how I'd like to be, how I am…on the inside. But unfortunately I'm only like that with myself. And perhaps that's why – no, I'm sure it's the reason why – I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I'm happy on the outside. I'm guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I'm nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:

In this, a part of Anne's last diary entry, on August 1, 1944, Anne explains how and why her inner, better self remains unknown to her family and fellow annex inhabitants. She seems to be a "flirt," a "know-all," a "reader of love stories," a person who is confident and sure, but internally she is much deeper, far more reflective and sentimental. She wants others to find out about this secret self, just as she always fears that others will find about her secret location within the annex. In the near and distant futures, both of these secrets will become horribly famous.