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
Growing Up Quotes in The Diary of Anne Frank
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which of the people here would suspect that so much is going on in the mind of a teenage girl?
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…
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?
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!
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!"
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!
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.