Course Hero. "The Diary of a Young Girl Study Guide." Course Hero. 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 14 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl/>.
Course Hero. (2017, January 12). The Diary of a Young Girl Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "The Diary of a Young Girl Study Guide." January 12, 2017. Accessed May 14, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl/.
Course Hero, "The Diary of a Young Girl Study Guide," January 12, 2017, accessed May 14, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl/.
In January 1944, Anne Frank focuses on "confessing" about two important topics: her evolving relationship with her mother, and her emerging sexuality.
"I've suddenly realized what's wrong with her," Anne says of her mother. She feels that Mrs. Frank doesn't set a proper maternal example, instead trying to be more of a friend to her daughters. This tactic works with Margot, who's closer to their mother than Anne is, but not with Anne, who makes it clear that she feels excluded. But she tries to see things from her mother's perspective—and, in doing so, concludes that her mother would be unlikely to change her behavior, even if Anne called her on it.
Anne is troubled by her mother's and sister's detailed accounts of their bathroom visits. "My whole body rises in revolt," she remarks on January 6 (first entry). She attributes this discomfort to the fact that she's going through puberty. But while her thoughts about her changing body are something she wants to keep private, she writes happily that she has recently started menstruating. Anne also realizes that she has "become an 'independent person' [she means mature] sooner than most girls."
At the same time, Anne so longs for companionship that she "somehow took it into my head to choose Peter for this role" (January 6, second entry). The night after a pleasant evening doing crossword puzzles with Peter van Daan, Anne dreams about another Peter: Peter Schiff, who was her boyfriend the summer before she went into sixth grade. "I love you [Peter Schiff], with a love so great that it simply couldn't keep growing inside my heart, but had to leap out and reveal itself in all its magnitude," she gushes on January 7.
Still, it's with Peter van Daan that Anne gets a down-to-earth lesson in how to distinguish male from female cats. From their conversation, she learns that even boys may be able to talk about sexual matters in a sensible way.
Anne is moving rapidly from childhood toward adulthood and feels the effects of this change, mentally and physically. Her insights and emotions are coming very fast.
On the one hand, she has become more thoughtful, admitting that "I didn't think about things as much as I do now." She insists on her desire to rely more on her own opinions and judgments, but be more patient and thoughtful in her dealings with other people. It's probably not a coincidence that she "suddenly" identifies what most bothers her about her mother ("she sees us more as friends than as daughters") just as she begins to attempt to get closer to Peter van Daan. Understanding one's parents is a big step in becoming more mature, and her interest in Peter is a sign that she is becoming more mature sexually as well.
Here, Anne's emotions may be running ahead of her insight. She does not make the connection between her newfound attraction to Peter van Daan and her dream about Peter Schiff, whom she's barely mentioned until this point. (In some translations of the diary, he's referred to as Peter Wessel because Anne liked to used invented names.) The dream is buried in Anne's past; in Anne's dream, Peter Schiff, no more than a memory at this point, is a stand-in for Peter van Daan, an actual boy living in the Secret Annex.
Anne is not in love with Peter Schiff. Rather, she's in love with the idea of being in love. "As I've grown older and more mature, my love [for Peter Schiff] has grown along with me," she says on January 7. This is impossible, because Anne hasn't interacted with Peter Schiff for years, and the last time she saw him (in June 1942), all he did was say hello. Anne is rapidly maturing, but her ideas about love are still immature and somewhat romanticized.
Anne also mentions that she has begun menstruating. Her attraction to Peter is certainly part of her growing curiosity about her own sexuality. In the entry for January 24, 1944, she discusses how her mother discourages her from ever talking to boys about sex. Otherwise, "whenever anyone at home or at school talked about sex," Anne notes, "they were either secretive or disgusting." Anne notes that Peter van Daan doesn't have this problem and can discuss sexual subject matters directly and without embarrassment. Anne admires this and has a refreshingly straightforward conversation with him about how cats are neutered and the terms for male and female sex organs.