The Diary of a Young Girl | Study Guide

Anne Frank

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The Diary of a Young Girl | March 10–March 22, 1944 | Summary

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Summary

March 10–March 17, 1944

Life in the Secret Annex is feeling more unstable than usual, and it seems everyone is out of sorts. Anne Frank's emotions pull her constantly in different directions. She strains to keep her feelings for Peter van Daan hidden from him and from the other residents, then questions why he seems to matter to her so much. She and Peter even have an argument. Nevertheless, they grow closer than ever and are able to share some of their innermost thoughts.

Anne also senses that her sister, Margot, feels left out. She suspects Margot may even be interested in Peter herself. She and Margot even write to each other about the situation and become closer as a result. Margot admits she's lonely, but not interested in Peter. Anne's still worried about her sister, and she encourages her to write to her again if she needs to. This is the first time in the diary that she's shown real concern for Margot's feelings.

March 18–March 22, 1944

It's not surprising that Anne finds herself thinking more about sex these days. On March 18, she asks why parents can't be more open with their children about such an important subject. They should not have to learn about these things in bits and pieces. And why do adults place so much value on "purity" (virginity)? Anne thinks purity is "a lot of nonsense." She relates how she learned about the basics of sex and reproduction from her pal, Jacque, a girl who was her best friend. Together, they also read a book on sex education.

Perhaps thoughts like these help keep Anne's mind off the increasingly desperate food situation in the Secret Annex. Anne reports that some of their helpers are sick. In addition, Anne notes on March 16 that people who supplied the residents with some of their food and food coupons have been arrested. Decent food is in increasingly short supply. At one lunch, the food smells so bad that Anne eats with a perfumed handkerchief over her mouth. They listen longingly to Miep Gies's husband, Jan, as he describes the meals he's getting out in the real world.

Analysis

Of Margot Frank, Miep Gies (one of the Secret Annex helpers) said in 1997: "I didn't have any relationship with Margot. She was there, and that was all." Anne Frank doesn't write much about Margot in the diary, though the sisters seem to get along. According to Anne, Margot gets along better with their mother, studies hard, and is quiet at mealtimes. Though Margot is three years older than Anne, she often seems overshadowed by her more lively sister.

The letters the sisters exchange from March 20 to March 22 illustrate both their closeness and their distance. It's hard to imagine two sisters writing about their feelings rather than just talking, but there's almost no privacy in the Secret Annex: letters are the safest way to avoid being overheard. Also, as Anne notes on March 20, "it's easier for me to say what I mean on paper than face-to-face."

In any case, the girls' letters are more formal than intimate, and perhaps more polite than they are loving. "You and Peter have everything to gain by your friendship," says Margot, and Anne replies: "Your letter was extremely kind." The girls are only three years apart in age, and they share extremely cramped conditions, but if these letters are an example of the way they communicate, it's not hard to see one reason Anne so often describes feeling lonely.

Anne admits in her first letter to Margot that she has "never really grown close to Father," although her relationship with Otto Frank is clearly better than with their mother. "Trust has to come from both sides," she says, suggesting that this has yet to occur with her and her father, possibly because he still treats her like a child. Anne also confesses to Margot that "Peter and I don't trust each other as much as you seem to think." However, when Anne is concerned after they have quarreled, she and Peter have a serious, in-depth conversation about their lives in the Annex that cements that trust. They share a candid assessment, for example, of the limitations they observe in their parents' marriages. Anne and Peter also discuss how much they've changed during their life in hiding and the "difference between everyone's inner and outer selves," an apt subject for two teenagers, and one that applies to many other aspects of life in the Secret Annex.

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