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 Daans' 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.
Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation ThemeTracker
Inner Self, Outer Self, and Isolation 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.
…on the surface, I seem to have everything, except my one true friend.
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.
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 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!"
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…
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.
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.
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.