Conflict in Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Hayley Medeiros

Hayley is an experienced, certified teacher of English and art who holds a Master's degree in literature.She has taught all levels from elementary through college.

Explore the numerous literary conflicts to be found in Anne Frank's 'Diary of a Young Girl,' which was written when the Franks were in hiding from the Nazis in Holland during World War II.

What Is Literary Conflict?

Have you ever felt at odds with the whole world and even with yourself? These are the feelings shared by Anne Frank in her diary, Diary of a Young Girl. Anne was thirteen when her Jewish family went into hiding from the Nazis in 1942 in order to escape deportation to a concentration camp. The Franks, the Van Daans, and Mr. Dussel were hidden by a few of Mr. Frank's trusted employees on the top level of Mr. Frank's business complex. Anne called their hiding place the Secret Annex. For a fun-loving, hyper teenager like Anne, it was almost unbearable to be stuck indoors 24/7. Although all were hiding for the same purpose, they were not free from conflict with themselves and each other.

Literary conflict is a character's struggle between opposing forces, both inside and with others. There are two major categories of conflict: internal, personal struggle within the character, and external, struggles the character has with forces outside himself or herself. The Diary of a Young Girl is full of Anne's internal and external conflicts. After all, isn't a diary the perfect place to vent about one's struggles? Anne certainly thought so, and her diary was her closest confidante when she lived in the Secret Annex between July of 1942 and August 4, 1944, the date of the Gestapo raid on the Annex and the arrest of all of its inhabitants.

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  • 0:03 What Is Literary Conflict?
  • 1:33 Internal Conflict
  • 2:29 External Conflict
  • 2:55 Person vs. Society
  • 4:23 Person vs. Person
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Internal Conflict

Anne Frank's internal conflict stems mainly from the adolescent turmoil that most teenagers experience. She wanted very much to be a normal, goofy teenager. At some points, Anne stated that she felt like two different people. One was the fun, noisy, annoying Anne, and the other was deep, quiet, serious, and afraid to let it show because of her fear of being laughed at by others. Anne also shared her struggles with a lack of self-confidence. She dreamed of being a journalist or writer, but she questioned how she could accomplish such a dream due to her shyness and insecurities.

Anne often wrote about how she felt grown up one minute and like a child the next. She experienced tumultuous feelings about sex and relationships with boys. In particular, Anne wondered whether she and Peter Van Daan should be platonic friends or in a romantic relationship.

External Conflict

The Diary of a Young Girl reveals two different types of external conflict. The first one is called person vs. society. In this type of conflict, the main character struggles against prevailing forces in his or her society, community, or country and government. In the second type of conflict, person vs. person, the protagonist is pitted against one or more characters in the literary work.

Person vs. Society

Many of Anne's struggles were the result of the anti-Semitic society in which she lived, which ultimately led to Hitler's Nazi regime. Anne wrote about the awful reality that being a Jew meant having to live like a prisoner and eventually being put to death for the ''crime'' of being Jewish. She detailed what it was like to live under the repressive German Nuremberg Laws, and ultimately being deported to ''work camps'' which were actually concentration camps.

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Conflict is a significant literary element in Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. What is literary conflict?

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