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Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl Characters: Traits & Analysis

Instructor: Laurie Smith
This lesson focuses on the characters Anne encounters as she lives in hiding. Anne Frank's descriptions of the people she lives with during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam demonstrate her interest in people and her sense of humor.

Anne Frank's Characterization

It is only natural that Anne Frank's diary would focus on the people in her life. After all, Anne is isolated from the outside world when her family goes into hiding to avoid capture by the Nazis. This isolation gives her plenty of time to study the idiosyncrasies of those around her, and Anne's vivid characterizations, or how a character in a story is described, draw readers into the claustrophobic setting of the Secret Annex.

The Secret Annex

As the Frank and van Daan families move into the Secret Annex, two types of personalities emerge: the modest and the straight-forward. Edith Frank believes that the residents of the Secret Annex can be divided into two groups: 'My husband, Margot, and Peter are all exceptionally modest. (Mr. van Daan), Anne, and I, though not exactly the opposite, don't let ourselves be pushed around.'

The Frank Family

Anne Frank, author of Diary of a Young Girl, who addresses the diary entries to Kitty, describes life in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. Jewish families including her own are forced to hide from or flee the Nazis. Her family and one other live in hiding in the Secret Annex, an abandoned part of her father's workplace.

Otto and Edith Frank have two children: thirteen-year-old Anne and sixteen-year-old Margot Frank. Margot is a studious young girl who seems a bit less outgoing than her vivacious sister Anne.

Anne's diary entries depict her father Otto as a studious man who spends his free time learning languages and reading the works of Charles Dickens. Anne is close to her father and often has straightforward conversations with him about love, sex, and life.

Edith Frank and her daughter Anne, on the other hand, are not as close. Edith is closer to Margot. Anne wishes for a warmer relationship with her mother, but they are never able to connect as well as Anne and her father. Nevertheless, Edith is not a cruel woman, and she treats the other residents of the Annex better than they treat her. She reads a great deal to pass the time, and she tries to learn English alongside her husband.

The van Daan Family

The van Daan Family also occupy part of the Secret Annex. Peter van Daan is the fifteen-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. van Daan. Although at first Anne thinks Peter is painfully shy and awkward, Anne eventually confesses to her diary that she's falling in love with Peter because of his quiet manner. Eventually Otto Frank becomes concerned about the amount of time Anne spends with Peter. Though Anne is angry with her father at first, she eventually accepts his advice and begins spending less time in Peter's room.

Anne sees Mrs. van Daan as something of a comic figure. When the van Daans move in, Anne describes the spectacle of Mrs. van Daan's arrival. 'Much to our amusement, Mrs. van Daan was carrying a hatbox with a large chamber pot inside. 'I just don't feel at home without my chamber pot,' she exclaimed, and it was the first item to find a permanent place under the divan.'

Anne often depicts Mrs. van Daan as argumentative and stingy. For example, all the residents of the annex typically share the food, but Mrs. van Daan sometimes hides extra food for her family. Mrs. van Daan frequently criticizes the Franks' childrearing strategies, a trait that particularly annoys Edith Frank. Like his wife, Mr. van Daan is demanding and critical. Anne says that he needs cigarettes to keep him civil and manageable.

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