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

June 12, 1942 to July 8, 1942

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Section One: June 12 to July 8, 1942

Summary:

The epigraph of this book is in Anne's handwriting and claims that she hopes she will be able to confide "completely" in her diary, and that it shall be a great comfort to her.

The first entry of the diary is on June 12, Anne's thirteenth birthday. She tells the story of how she woke early and then had to contain herself until seven a.m. to wake her parents and open her presents. She claims that the diary, one of those presents, is "possibly the nicest of all." She relates her list of presents, adding that she is "thoroughly spoiled," and then goes off to school with her friend Lies. On Sunday she has a birthday party with her school friends. Her mother always asks who she is going to marry, and she has managed to dissuade her from the boy she really likes, Peter Wessel. She talks about her school friends: Lies Goosens, Sanne Houtman, and Jopie de Waal. Lies and Sanne used to be her best friends, but since she started attending the Jewish Secondary School, she has become closer to Jopie.

On Saturday, June 20, Anne divulges that she wants her diary to be a friend to her--unlike her other friends, someone she can completely confide to. Although she has a loving family and lots of friends, she feels isolated and alone sometimes, and wants her diary to be someone she can talk to openly and honestly about everything. So she will call her diary "Kitty" and address it like a friend. She tells Kitty the history of her family: her parents' marriage, her 1929 birth in Frankfurt, and then, "as we are Jewish," their 1933 emigration to Holland. The rest of her family suffered under Hitler's pogroms in Germany; some of them managed to emigrate to other countries.

After 1940, Hitler conquered Holland and brought anti-Jewish measures there. Jews were forced to wear yellow stars as marks of identification; they had to hand in their bicycles and were not allowed to use trams or public facilities. They were segregated into Jewish shops and Jewish schools and not allowed to visit Christian homes. As Anne says, "Our freedom was strictly limited." Her beloved grandmother died in 1942. She went to the Montessori Kindergarten for lower school and currently, she attends the Jewish Secondary School.

The next entry, also on June 20, begins with the signature greeting of "Dear Kitty." Anne says that she has taken a liking to ping-pong; she and her friends often play and then go get ice-cream at the nearest shop that allows Jews. There, they let their admirers buy them ice cream. At this point, Anne lets the diary know that she has plenty of boy friends, whom offer to escort her home from school and almost always fall in love with her. She tries to ignore them when they do. Meanwhile, Anne's whole class is waiting anxiously to hear who will be promoted to the next grade. She personally is not worried about any subject except for math, since she has been punished for talking too much. Her teacher made her write three essays about being a "chatterbox." After she wrote funny essays, he allowed her to talk in class.

In the boiling heat, Anne wishes she didn't have to walk everywhere--but alas, Jews are not allowed to ride trams. The only place they are allowed is the ferry, which the ferryman let them ride as soon as they asked. Anne expresses sympathy towards the Dutch; saying it is not their fault that the Germans treat Jews so badly. She is approached by Harry Goldberg, a sixteen-year-old boy she met at her friend Eva's house. He "can tell all kinds of amusing stories," says Anne, and soon the two are seeing each other regularly. Although Harry has a girl friend, Fanny, a "very soft, dull creature," he is smitten with Anne. Although his grandparents, with whom he lives, think Anne is too young for him, he stops going out with Fanny and makes himself available to Anne. When she asks how, he claims, "Love finds a way."

Harry comes to meet her parents, and Anne makes all sorts of preparations for his visit. They go out for a walk, and Harry brings Anne home ten minutes after eight o'clock. As Jews have a city-wide curfew of eight o'clock, Mr. Frank is very upset and makes Anne promise to be back in the house at ten minutes to eight from now on. Still, her family likes Harry, and Anne does as well.

Anne gets her school marks back and they are good. She explains that although her parents do not pressure her for grades, she wants to be a good pupil. The headmaster of the Jewish Secondary School accepted her and her sister Margot "conditionally" and she does not want to let him down. She mentions that her father has been home a lot lately, "as there is nothing for him to do at business." Her father tells her the disturbing news that he has been planning for them to go into hiding for more than a year. Anne is horrified and asks why must he talk like that. He replies that he and Mrs. Frank will take care of it all and there is no need for her to be upset.

Analysis:

In the beginning part of her diary, we meet Anne before her ordeal. The picture we get is of a typical thirteen-year-old: precocious in some ways (her analysis of her friendships is startlingly adult), childish in others (her giggly behavior about boys). If she had been allowed to continue living outside and going to school, interacting with others, or if the war had not targeted Jews, she would have continued to be a charming, if faceless young girl. But as we will see, the change of location will change Anne. It is important to keep this picture of her in mind for comparative reasons with the later segments of the diary.

But even at the very beginning, Anne is a compelling narrator for the way she provides a lens on Jewish life in Hitler-occupied Amsterdam. In many ways she shows how the average human being responds to repression on a day-to-day basis. Her reactions to Hitler's anti-Jewish pogroms, for example, are enlightening. She does not exactly accept the repression as Hitler might have liked--Anne certainly does not believe that Jews are inferior because of the restrictions they are forced to endure--but nor does she dwell on the reasons behind why Hitler might despise Jews so much. Instead, she is matter-of-fact. Her family had to leave Germany "as we were Jewish," not because Hitler believed Jews were a subhuman race, and was explained his theory by suspect historical lessons and pseudo-science.

Her father is home quite a lot, "as there is nothing for him to do at business." The truth of the matter is that Jews were not allowed to participate in the type of business in which Mr. Frank was previously employed, but Anne chooses to leave that fact out. Her omissions, and her brisk manner about the ways Jews are treated in Amsterdam, takes the air out of Hitler's theories. She simply refuses to acknowledge the reasons behind this treatment, and in this way she is able to live a semblance of a normal life. She does this by concentrating on her friends, her school life, and her family. In many ways, Anne's reaction to the hardships of war are a great reflection of the way women and children--the traditional sufferers in war--have responded throughout the centuries.

Section Two: July 8 to September 29, 1942

Summary:

The first line for Anne's entry of July 8 lets us know that something crucial has happened: "Years seem to have passed between Sunday and now." At three o'clock on Sunday afternoon, she was reading on the verandah, waiting for Harry to come visit her. When the doorbell rings, she barely notices it. Her sister Margot comes to her, very excited, and says that the SS has sent up a call notice for Mr. Frank. Anne is instantly frightened--a call-up notice means "concentration camps and lonely cells." Their mother has already gone to see Mr. Van Daan. The Van Daans will be living with the Franks in their hiding place. The two girls sit quietly, lost in thought.

The doorbell rings again--Harry. Margot warns her sister not to go downstairs, but Anne needs no such warning. Mrs. Frank and Mr. Van Daan go downstairs and talk to Harry, then close the door and do not allow anyone else in. Mrs. Frank and Mr. Van Daan send the two girls upstairs so they can talk alone. In the privacy of their bedroom, Margot tells Anne that the call-up notice was for her, not for Mr. Frank. Anne is horrified that the SS would call a sixteen-year-old girl alone. With questions swirling in her head, she begins packing "the craziest things" into a school satchel in preparation to go into hiding. At five o'clock Mr. Frank arrives, and the speed of the preparations picks up. They leave the next morning, wearing layers and layers of clothes. ("No Jew in our situation would have dreamed of going out with a suitcase full of clothing," Anne explains.) Only Anne's cat is left behind.

They walk to their hiding place in the rain, and Mr. Frank explains that they were to go into hiding on July 16 anyway, but had to speed up their relocation because of the call-up. Anne describes their hiding place, the rooms on top of Mr. Frank's office building, and adds a drawing. When they arrived, Margot and Mrs. Frank were too miserable and depressed to do anything--it was up to Mr. Frank and Anne to clean up the living area and unpack all the boxes. This they do, and Anne barely has time to think for several days. When she does she talks about the clock, which disturbs the others by striking every fifteen minutes, but comforts Anne. She is impressed with the "Secret Annex," calling it "an ideal hiding place." However, all of the Franks are nervous about being heard and restless about being cooped up for good.

A month later, Anne reports that little has been going on for her to report. The Van Daans arrived on July 13. They had planned to come one day later, but the Germans called up so many Jews between July 13-16 that they decided it was wise to leave one day earlier rather than one day late. Their son, Peter, is almost sixteen, "soft, shy, gawky," in Anne's estimation. Mr. Van Daan explains what happened to their house. The cat was taken to a neighbor, and Mr. Van Daan went to great lengths to spread false rumors about what had happened to the Franks.

Not all is well and good between the Franks and the Van Daans. They quarrel over things big and small. The matriarchs of the family have differences over plates and sheets; Anne cannot get along with Mr. Van Daan at all. Peter Van Daan had a fight with his parents when he snatched a book that he was not allowed to read "on the subject of women." Margot was also forbidden to read the book, but she left it alone. When Mr. Van Daan caught Peter with the book, he was sent to bed without dinner. Peter tried to threaten his parents by going in the chimney, but Mr. Van Daan reprimanded him and eventually he went back to bed.

"School" begins again in September. Anne works at her French; Peter works at English. Anne hears herself being discussed by the adults and they decide that she is "not completely stupid after all," which has the effect of making her work twice as hard. Anne worries that she has very few clothes for the winter. She also slaps the book closed when Mrs. Van Daan walks in, as there is a particularly unflattering description of her that Anne wishes to conceal. Anne is not getting along with any of her family members at the moment, except for her father. Also, She and Mrs. Van Daan do not get along. Mrs. Van Daan is always saying that Anne is spoiled and tries to force her to eat more vegetables. They also have a "jolly good row" over the matter of modesty in Anne. Anne is fed up with all the bickering and feels that she has been forced to "swallow" insults.

The last entry of the month is a veritable ode to the pleasures of hot baths and modern plumbing--both of which the Franks and the Van Daans have been forced to live without in hiding. All of them have been forced to go to great lengths to bathe in privacy and, when the plumber was at work, use the toilet.

Analysis:

This section of the book brings the Franks to a critical juncture. It also begins developing one of the main themes of the book: Anne's growth and development under duress. As we see in the entry for July 8, Anne knows how to quickly abandon the trappings of her privileged childhood to react in a crisis situation. She has a strong survival instinct. When Harry comes to the door, she does not go down to greet him or even protest when she cannot go down to greet him. Her thoughts are fixed on her family's safety. She also comprehends complicated reasoning about how to evade capture--such as the fact that she should not pack clothes in her bag, because if they were stopped, the clothes would give them away.

Also in this entry, we witness Anne learning some of the hard truths of the adult world. She is horrified that the SS would call up Margot alone--she is just a sixteen-year-old girl. The fact that Hitler's army does not differentiate between men, women, and children is a frightening reality for Anne to confront.

Still, Anne is a young girl, and we see the struggle between the young side of her personality and the adult side of her personality in many ways. At first she looks on her living situation as a grand "adventure" and is delighted with the annex and all the little charms of her living space. Then, slowly, the difficult aspects of living in close quarters begin to grate on her. It is hard enough to stay on good terms with the people she is living with, much less think about the greater state of the world. She feels outnumbered and under attack from the other people in the house. While she is surely exaggerating to some extent--it is impossible that every quarrel they have is about Anne; we see that at least some of them are about the other children as well--her sense of embattledness evokes great sympathy. She is still a young girl and it is difficult for her to fight back against the slights of adults.