Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank Summary and Analysis

by Anne Frank

October 1, 1942 to November 28, 1942

Section Three: October 1, 1942 to November 28, 1942

Summary:

Anne opens her entry for October 1 by saying that she was terrified when the doorbell rang--she thought it was the Gestapo. It was not, but there are other fears. One of the employees, an older Jewish chemist, knows the building very well and they are always afraid that he might take a notion to look in the annexe. Anne is also frightened by the news she has heard from the outside: the Franks' Jewish friends are being hauled away by the dozens. News of the German concentration camps filters down to them, along with other atrocious German misdeeds. "Nice people, the Germans!" huffs Anne. "To think that I was once one of them too!"

To distract herself from these woes, Anne keeps busy with her studies of French and math and records the squabbles of the two families. She is annoyed with Mrs. Van Daan for flirting with Mr. Frank, and unhappy about her relationship with her mother. She and her sister are temporarily getting along and have agreed to read each others' diaries.

On the night of October 20, all the residents have a scare. A carpenter comes to fill the fire extinguishers and is hammering on the landing opposite their cupboard door entrance. They settle down and try to be quiet as soon as they hear him, but then he starts to knock on their door. Everyone goes white as he begins pushing at the door to their secret annexe. Then they hear the voice of Mr. Koophius, one of their protectors. He asks them to let them in, and they do immediately. On Monday, Miep and her husband Henk spend the night in the annexe, which is an amusing diversion for all the residents. At the end of October, Anne is worried about her father. He falls ill and they cannot call a doctor for him, and if he coughs he might give them away. She also notes that she is becoming more "grownup"--her mother allows her to read a book that mentions prostitution, and she learns about periods. (She longs for one, "it seems so important.")

On November 7, Anne reports at length a quarrel that happened between herself and her family. Her parents took Margot's side when Margot and Anne fought over a book, and Anne writes tearfully that she feels the pain of her father's judgement all the more because her mother's love is not what Anne wishes it would be. Fortunately, her father is feeling better, and a little festivity comes in the form of Peter's sixteenth birthday. In addition, Anne is excited because both families have agreed to take in an eighth person. They all sit down to decide who will "fit in well with our ¬Ćfamily.'" They settle on Albert Dussel, an elderly dentist. He is excited to have a hiding place, but insists on waiting to come for a couple of days until after he has settled his accounts and treated a couple of patients. Anne is impatient and perceives him as somewhat ungrateful.

Dussel eventually arrives. He is greatly surprised to see the Franks, as he had heard that they were in Switzerland. They all laugh and tell him how they came to be in the secret annexe, then give him a grand tour. The Van Daans have written a funny list of "rules" advertising the Secret Annexe, which amuse everyone. Dussel will share a room with Anne while Margot moves to the camp bed. Dussel is, as Anne says, "a very nice man." He shares the tragic news from outside--many of their friends have been taken away by the Germans, and every evening, as if on a witch hunt, the Germans go in search of Jews. Anne feels "wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while my dearest friends have been knocked down...all because they are Jews!" At Dussel's news, a gloom settles over the whole annexe. Anne is upset but decides that she cannot spend all her time upset.

Meanwhile they suffer under shortages of all types--a power shortage (they are not allowed to use any power for a week) and a paper shortage among them. Anne finds that Dussel has his faults; she calls him "a stodgy old-fashioned disciplinarian."

Analysis:

Anne's statements about the Germans and the Jewish chemist at the beginning of this section expose how war can create conflicts between different parts of people's identities. Anne despises the Germans, as she rightfully should, but technically, she is a German herself. Her own mother does not speak Dutch very well because she spent most of her life in Germany. Although Anne has lived in Holland since she was four and feels a greater connection to the Dutch, she wrestles with the fact of her German background. She attempts to reconcile this by removing this part of her identity--by claiming that Hitler "took" her German nationality, she can detach herself from the actions the Germans are taking.

The fact that all the Annexe's residents fear a Jewish chemist in the building brings up the important point of complicity among the populace. In recent years there has been much international media attention on how nations like Poland and Switzerland were complicit in some ways with the Nazi regime. The truth is that there were people in every nation who were complicit with the Nazis, and some of them were Jewish. By this point in time--and Dussel's news confirms this fact--the Germans were rounding up Jews all over Holland. If the Jewish chemist discovered the annexe, he may very well have turned them in to the Nazis in return for his own safety. The combination of not being able to trust her own nation and not being able to trust a man of her own religion must have been confusing and embittering for Anne. She truly belongs to no society that she can name. And she is not alone--for an adult with a greater understanding of how the world works, the oppression and psychological torture of the war must have been even worse.

Most of Anne's diary entries are reports of the small cruelties that come with living in close quarters: the useless fights, the boredom, the small ways that people find to get on each others' nerves. These entries are vital for building rapport with Anne as she suffers through her ordeal, although they may seem repetitive (imagine how repetitive it must have been to live the text!). There are several themes that run through all the entries and begin gaining momentum during this time period: Anne's fear that their hiding place will be discovered, her overwhelming sense of loneliness, her concern that no one will ever understand her, and her struggle to respond constructively to news from the outside. Locked inside the annex, unable to go outside, Anne's cocoon of childhood innocence continues in some ways. Although she is learning a bit about the harder side of living, she does not have to see the terror that is going on outside. As such, she resolves to go about her life as cheerfully as she can, and not to focus too much on misery that she cannot change. As the diary progresses, Anne will gain a fuller understanding of genocide and struggle heroically to come to terms with it.

Section Four: December 7, 1942 through June 13, 1943

Summary:

Chanuka and St. Nicholas Day are just one day apart, so the residents of the annex have two small celebrations. For Chanuka, they give each other a few small gifts and then, due to a shortage, light the candles for only ten minutes. St. Nicholas Day is more festive; Miep and Elli conspire with Mr. Frank for the occasion. At night, all the residents go downstairs and discover a large basket covered with a mask of Black Peter and filled with presents.

The residents order a lot of meat which Mr. Van Daan makes into sausages. Mr. Dussel opens a dental "practice" in the attic--a humorous episode follows with him treating Mrs. Van Daan's toothaches. Although Anne finds him funny at times, she is annoyed at his fussiness and his habit of "shushing" her at night. Anne comments on the people in the neighborhood she lives in--the children, she says, are "real slum kids." She frets over how "terrible" it is outside: children are being separated from their families, the Dutch are losing their sons to the Germans, and the Jews are being rounded up and taken away. Jews, Gentiles, women, men--everyone, Anne says, is miserably waiting for the end.

Still, all of that seems further away than what is going on in the annex. Anne feels as though she is mistreated and misunderstood by all the people around her. She complains of being name-called and disrespected. She remarks that it took Mr. Dussel some time to get used to the quarrels of the household. Anne's father is expecting the invasion at any moment. Churchill is recovering in England; Ghandi is fasting in India. Meanwhile, the owner of the building has sold it without telling Koophius and Kraler--when new owners come by to look at the building, Koophius has to pretend he has forgotten the key to the annexe. This brings a new fears for the residents. There is a butter shortage, which leads to rationing at the table.

At night, the residents cower from the gunfire. They cannot light candles or turn on the light. Anne creeps into her father's bed for comfort. Rats have infested the attic; one night Peter is bitten. Anne is growing--she can't find a pair of shoes to fit her for longer than a week. There is great excitement in Amsterdam when it is announced that Turkey has joined the war on England's side. The whole annex gets a scare when they hear fumbling downstairs; they imagine it is a burglary. Fortunately, they only end up scaring each other and find little evidence of a burglar.

Mr. Frank is distraught that he cannot take part in important business discussions downstairs; he gets Anne and Margot to help him eavesdrop. Quarrels continue among everyone, and Anne laments that they are living better than most other Jews and still cannot get along. There is a radio announcement that all Jews must be "cleaned out" of all German territories by July 1. Students who do not declare sympathy with the Germans are not allowed to continue their studies for the year. (Eighty percent refuse to sign and are at risk of being sent to a labor camp.) The only bright spot is that sabotage and strikes are starting to affect the Germans in Holland.

Anne's birthday comes again; the festivities are greatly subdued in comparison to last year. Nonetheless, she is happy, she is "spoiled" with sweets and her father writes her a poem in German, which Margot translates into Dutch.

Analysis:

Anne continues to struggle with the adult residents of the annex. Note that the Anne's responses to the arguments increasingly take on a different tone. She no longer attempts to excuse her behavior or merely whine about how unfair her treatment is. Instead, she draws parallels between her behavior and the behavior of the adults in the annex, comes to the realization that it is unfair for her to be compared to Margot because they are very different people, and begins to learn how to bottle her rage and express anger only on the most important occasions. These are all indicators of maturity. Anne's subtle changes also show how she is becoming her own person.

The holidays provide some welcome festivity to the household. It is important that Anne's family celebrates St. Nicholas Day--traditionally a pagan, and then Christian holiday. (Black Peter is the companion of Father Christmas, or Santa Claus.) The fact that they celebrate St. Nicholas Day--even more than Chanukah, at least for this year--shows how assimilated the Franks are into Gentile Dutch society. While this may explain why Anne seldom identifies with other Jews (beyond persecution, of course), it is this very element of her diary that troubles some Jewish critics. David B. Green notes that "being Jewish seems to have been largely tangential to Anne's sense of self, even as the tightening noose of the Nazi occupation reminded her daily that her fate was tethered to her Jewishness" and complains that if Anne had not suffered from "[a] lack of ethnicity," her diary might not have been the overwhelming classic that it is.

Green's remarks are certainly worthy of discussion, because Anne certainly does not understand herself in terms of her ethnicity--at least, not in this diary. (Who knows what she might have come to understand had she lived?) Instead, she understands herself as a young woman trapped in circumstances beyond her control, waiting impatiently for the forces that be to work things out so that she and her family may get on with the business of living.

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