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The Diary of a Young Girl | Discussion Questions 11 - 20

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In The Diary of a Young Girl, what does her description of Kitty in the entry for June 20, 1942, reveal about Anne Frank herself?

In her diary entry for June 20, 1942, Anne Frank reveals a series of details about herself to "Kitty," the name she has given her diary. Anne admits that, while she has a broad social circle, she doesn't have a close friend in whom she can confide. Her loneliness and need to share her deepest thoughts lead her to pretend her diary is a female friend she can trust with her innermost feelings. This is the role that her diary, which she names "Kitty," will fulfill: "I want the diary to be my friend." Anne's description of Kitty reveals not only her need for greater intimacy through a more serious friendship, but also her desire to be her authentic self. Writing to Kitty gives Anne a context in which she can express herself fully in a way she cannot do with friends and family at this stage in her life.

What does the story about Anne Frank's "Chatterbox" assignments in the June 21, 1942, entry of The Diary of a Young Girl reveal about her?

In her entry for June 21, 1942, Anne Frank relates a humorous anecdote about a series of assignments she was given by her teacher, Mr. Keesing. Because she is so chatty in class, he assigns her the extra work of writing an essay on the subject of "A Chatterbox." Anne meets the challenge with characteristic wit. After much consideration about how to approach the assignment, she builds a convincing argument about the role of genetics in her unavoidable condition as a chatterbox, claiming she has inherited this characteristic from her mother. Her response to this assignment shows how Anne is strong willed and incorrigible. She "talks her way through the next class," proving that she's learned nothing from writing the essay. This fact is not lost on Mr. Keesing, who assigns her another essay, this one on "An Incorrigible Chatterbox." Upon completion of this assignment, Mr. Keesing assigns Anne one more essay that is to be entitled "'Quack, Quack, Quack,' said Mistress Chatterback." Not to be outdone, Anne enlists the help of her friend Sanne and composes a response in verse, much to the delight of Mr. Keesing. This anecdote demonstrates Anne's ingenuity with language and her ability to spar intellectually with adults.

What does Anne Frank's discussion of her report card in the July 5, 1942, entry reveal about family attitudes toward school in The Diary of a Young Girl?

In her diary entry for July 5, 1942, Anne Frank relays the details of her report card. She writes that "I got one D, a C- in algebra and all the rest B's, except for two B+'s and two B-'s." While the grades hardly seem to reflect the intelligent and capable young girl reflected in the diary so far, Anne's assessment of the marks as not "too bad" suggests that these grades are comparable to those she has received in the past. From this, the reader learns that Anne is not too hung up on making good marks in school, even though she values intelligence in herself, admires Margot Frank for her brains, and criticizes her peers who don't seem to be very smart. This entry also offers some insight into the Frank family values. Anne writes, "My parents are pleased, but they're not like other parents when it comes to grades." This shows that the Frank family departs from what Anne sees as the cultural norm. The Franks do not place a premium on academic performance as other families in Amsterdam do, although it is clear elsewhere in the diary that they respect knowledge and learning. She continues, "They never worry about report cards ... as long as I'm healthy and happy and don't talk back too much, they're satisfied." This shows that Anne's mother and father are more concerned with their daughter's well-being than with her academic performance.

In the July 1, 1942, entry in The Diary of a Young Girl, what does Anne Frank mean when she writes that she is interested in the Zionist movement?

In Section 1 of Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank discloses that though her grandparents had signed her up for a wood-working class on Wednesdays, she instead attends "a club organized by the Zionists." Zionists, at the time when Anne was writing, were a group of people interested in establishing a sovereign and protected Jewish state. After World War II, in 1948, a portion of Palestine was annexed and named the State of Israel. Though antisemitism reached unprecedented levels during the period leading up to and during World War II, Jews had been persecuted and denied an independent state for nearly 2,000 years. The Zionist movement sought to remedy this. Although Anne's grandparents are anti-Zionist for undisclosed reasons, Anne expresses an interest in the movement, perhaps in part because of the restrictions the Jews experienced in Holland.

In The Diary of a Young Girl, what is Anne Frank's attitude about going into hiding, according to her July 11, 1942, entry?

When she and her family first go into hiding in the Secret Annex, the gravity of the situation doesn't seem to register with young Anne Frank. Instead of discussing the danger of the situation, she declares that being in hiding is "like being on vacation in some strange pension," meaning a hotel or boardinghouse. This shows that Anne believes they will be in hiding only briefly, and then return home. Anne's description focuses on the physical aspects of living in the Annex rather than the larger context of the war and its relationship to her and her family's situation. She seems to revel in the secrecy, saying, "The Annex is an ideal place to hide," although the silence there makes her nervous at night. This may be why she enjoys the chiming of the nearby clock. Anne discusses various decorating projects for cheering up the Annex. For example, she describes her bedroom as having "blank walls" and being "very bare," and how she decorates it with her own collection of picture postcards and photos of movie stars. In this way, it resembles the bedroom of any normal teenage girl, despite the Franks' situation being far from normal.

In The Diary of a Young Girl, why does Anne Frank declare in the final entry of her diary that she feels "split in two," and why is this important?

Anne Frank sees herself as made up of two sides, each wrestling for dominance. On the one hand is her lighter, more superficial side, representing her "jubilant cheerfulness." This side of her personality is flippant and flirtatious. It competes with her "much purer, deeper, and finer" side, a serious, more noble side of her that she believes few people know, and that she believes comes out only when she's alone. She continues to struggle with "trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be." In fact, she has been trying to accomplish this since she started the diary in 1942. Although she did not realize it, this became Anne's final diary entry. However, her words are a reminder that she still considers herself a work in progress. This desire to improve herself is of utmost importance to her, but she has yet to solve the dilemma of how to make peace between the two warring sides of her character. The diary does not end neatly, but with a declaration from its author of her renewed determination to keep trying to resolve this conflict. The diary is an important tool for Anne to understand this struggle within herself and consider how to address it, and she clearly did not mean to stop the diary at this point. Anne undoubtedly planned to continue writing it. Knowing that Anne's death will occur in a matter of months, the reader is struck by this last entry with a tragic sense of a life interrupted.

In The Diary of a Young Girl, how does Anne Frank use her analysis of her mother, Mrs. Frank, to attempt to define herself?

In The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank frequently criticizes her mother and mentions their lack of closeness. While this behavior is not unusual for an adolescent girl, Anne's criticism of her mother can be brutal. For example, one night, after Anne won't let her mother listen to her bedtime prayers, her mother is so frustrated by Anne's rejection that she declares, "I can't make you love me!" and begins to weep (April 2, 1943). Anne responds, "the truth is she's the one who rejected me [with] tactless comments and cruel jokes ... My heart sinks every time I hear her harsh words." Anne decides that the reason she feels so negatively about her mother is because her mother has—in Anne's eyes—failed "to set a good example and be a person I can respect" (January 6, 1944). Anne goes on to declare in the same entry that "in most matters she's an example of what not to do." While this response would certainly cut any mother to the core, Anne is using her experiences with her mother to figure out the kind of woman she plans to grow into. This rejection of her mother's traits is a big part of Anne's quest to become independent, as she defines herself against what she perceives as her mother's failings.

Why did Anne Frank's parents arrange for certain things to be left behind before they went into hiding in The Diary of a Young Girl?

In Anne Frank's entry for July 8, 1942, she describes how the Frank family prepares to leave their house to go into hiding in the Secret Annex. They deliberately leave "the breakfast things on the table, the pound of meat for the cat in the kitchen ... [to] create the impression that we'd left in a hurry." The Franks did this to make it look like they were taken away by the SS or had fled the city, the goal being to mislead the authorities into looking for them in the wrong place, or not looking for them at all. Later, in her entry for August 14, Anne relates how Mr. van Daan helps the Franks cover their tracks when he intentionally misleads Mr. Goldschmidt into believing the Franks have tried to leave the country by contacting an official in another town. Mr. van Daan's story about it is yet another attempt to confuse the authorities as to the whereabouts of the Franks, and create the impression that they have left Amsterdam.

In The Diary of a Young Girl, why is reading books so important to Anne Frank?

Reading books does more than help Anne Frank pass the time while she and the other residents are in hiding. For her, books are an extension of herself. Through them, the knowledge she gains aids in her overall growth and development. They help her form her own opinions and ideas, fostering her sense of independence. They also broaden and sharpen her love of language and improve her writing skills, a must for a young writer. According to her entry for March 18, 1944, she even learned about sex education from a book. When her parents forbid Anne to read certain books because she is not "intellectually developed" enough yet, she fumes angrily. This simply proves to her what she's said many times in the diary: her parents treat her like a child. Anne's love of books, whether for pleasure or as part of her education, shows how curious she is about the world and about discovering her place in it. Books are a constant at the Secret Annex, so they stabilize the experience of living in hiding. Anne is never without some sort of reading material throughout the course of the diary, and even keeps a list of what she and the other residents are reading (May 16, 1944). By April, 6, 1944, having developed an enthusiasm for the subject of history, she writes that she longs to visit the public library after her family leaves the Annex to find out even more. She does not realize that her diary will eventually become a famous and popular historical account in such libraries one day.

What is the significance of Anne Frank writing what becomes The Diary of a Young Girl in Dutch rather than German?

On October 9, 1942, not long after the Frank family goes into hiding, Anne Frank makes the bold claim that "there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and the Jews." Anne is herself a German, yet she now finds herself, as a Jew, having to reject her German identity. She feels she must do so to preserve her Jewish identity, as well as to distance herself from Germany's harsh treatment of the Jews in Germany, and in the Netherlands as well. As she puts it, "Hitler took away our nationality long ago." The fact that Anne wrote her diary in Dutch, not her native German tongue, is a reaction to this situation. In response to the terrifying treatment of Jews by the Nazis, the residents of the Secret Annex refuse to speak German whenever possible. They also avoid German radio broadcasts, and minimize reading of books in German. As a budding writer, Anne has a powerful and personal relationship to language. Writing her diary in Dutch, the language of the country to which her family has fled as refugees from Germany, is a strong statement of where her sympathies now lie.

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