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Anne Frank & Peter: Relationship, Compare & Contrast

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Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In Anne Frank's 'Diary of a Young Girl', Peter is the only teenage boy Anne sees in the two years their families are in hiding. Although in many ways they seem an unlikely pair, their situation kindles a romance between them.

Opposites Attract

Do opposites really attract? Anne Frank had only one big crush prior to going into hiding, and that boy was like her: attractive, vivacious, funny, and outgoing. The only boy in the annex, Peter van Daan, is the complete opposite: shy, sensitive, awkward, and complacent. However, they are both in their early teens, experiencing feelings towards the opposite sex for the first time, and trapped together. Let's find out more about the relationship between Anne and Peter in Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl.

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  • 0:04 Opposites Attract
  • 0:37 Poor First Impression of Peter
  • 1:44 Finding Common Ground
  • 3:08 Is He Really What She Wants?
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Poor First Impression of Peter

When Anne first comes to the annex, she can't stop thinking about Peter Schiff, a boy that she spent a lot of time with one summer before he decided Anne was too young for him. Still, Anne is convinced it is true love and that they will someday be together. Anne writes, 'I love Peter as I've never loved anyone, and I tell myself he's only going around with all those other girls to hide his feelings for me.'

Anne doesn't think twice about Peter van Daan, the sixteen-year-old boy that moves into the annex with his parents. Anne sums him up as '…a shy, awkward boy whose company won't amount to much.' At times it seems as though she doesn't even like him, referring to him as a lazy, obnoxious dope.

She feels sorry for him because his parents argue constantly, and they have a propensity towards physical and emotional abuse towards Peter, but his hypersensitivity and constant complaints about health issues are irritating.

Over time, Anne learns to tolerate him, but still, she doesn't like him. Peter starts to think of Anne like a sister, but Anne doesn't feel the same way. Peter is shy and hard to get to know, so it appears they have nothing in common.

Finding Common Ground

When Anne discovers that Peter likes to dress up as much as she does, she develops a fondness for his sense of humor. Anne writes, 'One evening we made our appearance, with Peter in one of his mother's skin-tight dresses and me in his suit. He wore a hat; I had a cap on. The grown-ups split their sides laughing, and we enjoyed ourselves every bit as much.'

When Anne's loneliness becomes almost more than she can bear, she realizes that she needs to form a relationship with Peter. Anne begins to find excuses to hang out in Peter's room. Anne's feelings for Peter begin to grow, and she suspects that his are growing, also, but Peter's shyness means that admitting their feelings is going to be a slow process. Patience is not one of Anne's greatest qualities, but the two become very close friends who talk about everything, even sex, without feeling uncomfortable.

Peter admires that Anne is '…never at a loss for words: you say exactly what you want to say and aren't in the least bit shy.' Anne admires that Peter is willing to humble himself for the sake of peace, even when he knows he's right.

In Anne's mind, 'Peter Schiff and Peter van Daan have melted into one Peter, who's good and kind and whom I long for desperately.' This passage leaves the reader wondering if it is Peter van Daan that Anne cares about, or if she needs a surrogate for the person she really wants to be with.

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