The Diary of Anne Frank

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Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation Theme Analysis

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.
Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation Theme Icon

The idea of secrets and hiding away – both literally and figuratively – are central to The Diary of a Young Girl. Just as Anne Frank and her family are secreted away in the Secret Annex adjacent to the Dutch Opekta Company, Anne finds herself secreting away aspects of herself from those around her. "Can you tell me why people go to such lengths to hide their real selves?" Anne wonders in her diary. "Or why I always behave differently when I'm in the company of others?" Throughout her diary, Anne deals with the idea of "two Annes" – there's the Anne she presents to her family (lively, boisterous, chatty, spunky) and the Anne that she hides away (a gentle, emotional Anne, full of serious thoughts and big dreams).

Anne dissects (and often satirizes) peoples' appearances throughout the text, and in doing so she seems to be chipping away at their exterior selves, with the hope of understanding what lies beneath. Through her relationship with the van Dann's son, Peter, she comes to understand that those around her have private selves. For instance, Anne initially assumes that Peter is awkward and uninteresting, but later comes to realize that he's actually far more complex than his awkward exterior would have her believe – like her, he's a dreamer, a thinker, a complex human being full of rich emotions.

Anne discovers that she contains multiple selves – prewar Anne (a popular middle-class girl who was constantly laughing and surrounded by friends), Anne in wartime (a much more mature and introspective version of her former self), Anne in love, the Anne she hopes to become (a journalist, someone who really makes a difference in the world), etc. In the final entry of her diary, Anne considers how she might try to reveal the "second Anne" (the serious, more thoughtful Anne) more often. She admits this will be difficult, if not impossible: "I know exactly how I'd live to be, how I am…on the inside…. [I] keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if…if only there were no other people in the world."

Wartime complicates this notion of public and private selves. Both the Jews in hiding and the sympathizers who assist them are forced to present different selves to those they can trust and to those they cannot (i.e. Nazi officials and sympathizers). The Franks, for example, find they have to hatch elaborate ruses to cover up their disappearance, and the Christians who help them (Miep, Bep, etc.) find that they have to create the appearance of normality in order to avoid arousing suspicions that they're hiding Jews.

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Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation appears in each section of The Diary of Anne Frank. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation 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 Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation.
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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…on the surface, I seem to have everything, except my one true friend.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

As Anne Frank continues to detail her family's pleasant, plain life, she mentions the many worldly gifts she possesses: material trifles, a comfortable home, boy admirers, a nice family, and classmates she can call friends. Yet, Anne claims to lack a "one true friend" -- she experiences isolation within her otherwise charming existence because she cannot share her deepest, most private thoughts with another. Even at the beginning of this diary, we begin to see larger themes -- societal roles versus personal identities, secrecy versus disclosure -- that will become more emotionally charged as Anne's life progresses, and will even become associated with matters of life and death.

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.

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 see the eight of us in the Annex as if we were a patch of blue sky surrounded by menacing black clouds. The perfectly round spot on which we're standing is still safe, but the clouds are moving in on us, and the ring between us and the approaching danger is being pulled tighter and tighter. We're surrounded by darkness and danger, and in our desperate search for a way out we keep bumping into each other. We look at the fighting down below and the peace and beauty up above. In the meantime, we've been cut off by the dark mass of clouds, so that we can go neither up nor down. It looms before us like an impenetrable wall, trying to crush us, but not yet able to. I can only cry out and implore, "Oh ring, ring, open wide and let us out!"

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

After Anne describes how a life after the war is like a "castle in the air" for herself, she expands her vision to include the other members of the annex community as well. This passage's imaginary nature adds to the tragic pathos; the idyllic description is far removed from reality, just as members of the annex are hopelessly removed from participation in society. Anne's vision might be spurred from feelings of depression or emptiness, but they reveal how her imagination is enlivened by the imposed interiority of her experience and her unfortunate circumstances. In passages such as these, Anne's diary serves as a testament to the human spirit.

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.

The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature's beauty and simplicity.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

One Wednesday in February, Anne describes how she goes up to the attic every morning, to watch Peter work and to look up at the sky. She details one particular morning, when she realized that she would feel happy as long as such nature endures. Anne then moves beyond her personal reflection, to advocate that all individuals can harness nature as a solace for their various distresses. This passage has become one of Anne's most famous statements because of its universal appeal and relevance. It demonstrates Anne's developing, precocious wisdom and hope in the face of despair, even if this beautiful sentiment might have been partly inspired by her youthful admiration for Peter.

Riches, prestige, everything can be lost. But the happiness in your own heart can only be dimmed; it will always be there, as long as you live, to make you happy again.

Related Characters: Anne Frank (speaker)
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

Anne adds a PS to a diary entry from late February 1944, dedicating this addendum "To Peter." Anne describes how this morning she felt a brilliant burst of happiness, when she was "just plain happy," while simply looking outside of the window. She realized that people carry such happiness within themselves, and that this bliss does not depend on external circumstances. It can be "dimmed," it can be diminished, but it always exists within one's inner self. This epitomizes Anne's unusual amount of consciousness about the human experience; she seems to realize lessons about mindfulness usually only attained through great age, experience, or religious/mystical insight.

The narrative in the diary has also been preoccupied by the contrast between inner and outer selves, interior and exterior spaces, and here Anne inserts an element of hope into this binary. Because each individual has an internal as well as external self, every person has an intrinsic ability to feel and maintain happiness in their secret inner life, according to Anne's wise pondering.

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.