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The Diary of Anne Frank: Free Study Guide - Free BookNotes/Analysis

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Although this piece of literature is a diary and does not have a typical plot, it can be viewed in terms of ordinary conflict.


The author, main character, and protagonist of the diary is Anne Frank, a teenage Jewish girl who is trying to survive the horror of World War II and the Nazi occupation of Holland.


The antagonist is the Nazi Regime, especially its leader Adolf Hitler, who supported ethnic cleansing and wanted to exterminate all but the Aryan (Germanic) race. One of their major targets was the Jews.


The climax occurs went the Nazis discover the hiding place of the Franks and van Daans.


Anne Frank’s story ends in tragedy. She is captured by the Nazis, along with her mother, her sister, and the van Daans, and sent to a concentration camp, where she dies of typhus. Out of all the people in hiding with her, only her father, Otto Frank, survives.


The Diary of Anne Frank was written over a two-year period, tells about her life while she and her family are in hiding in Holland. They are staying in a secret attic of the office building where Mr. Frank used to work in order to escape from the Nazis during World War II. During their stay in the annex, they are supported by several people in the office building, who risk their own lives to insure the secrecy of the Jewish hideout and to provide them with food and basic supplies.

Much of Anne’s diary tells about the daily routine of the occupants of the attic. It also describes in detail the characters of Anne’s father, mother, and sister, as well as the characters of the three van Daans and Mr. Dussel, who share the attic with them. Anne’s difficult situation is made more complicated by her own adolescence. Her maturing process, coupled with the misery of her cramped quarters and her constant fear of discovery and capture, is clearly seen in the pages of the diary. She tells of the conflicts she has with her mother and sister, the support she receives from her father, the love that develops between her and Peter van Daan, the constant bickering of the inhabitants of the attic, and the deprivations that she must endure while in hiding. She also gives a detailed accounting of what is occurring in the war, especially in Holland, and reflects upon her past life.

The straightforward and simple diary is filled with conflicting emotions, ranging from depression and despair to cheerfulness and pleasure. Anne constantly tries to see the good side of things and to have hope in spite of the misery and fear she faces on a daily basis. She even tells of some humorous incidents that occur within the annex. When the air raids and bombings come closer to the office building, however, it is harder for her to be positive, but she tries her best to rally her courage and find a zest for living. When she falls in love with Peter, she does, indeed, gain a new lease on life and a strong desire to survive. Unfortunately, her diary is left unfinished, for she, her family, and the other occupants of the annex are discovered by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp.


Major Themes

The general horror of war, coupled with the specific horrors that the Nazis inflicted upon the Jews, is the major theme of the diary. Anne Frank, the young teenage girl who writes the diary, experiences the pain of war firsthand. In order to try and escape the Nazi extermination of Jewish people, her family and the van Daans go into hiding in Amsterdam, Holland. In spite of their efforts to save themselves, all of the Franks and van Daans are captured and sent to a concentration camp. Only Otto Frank survives the ordeal.

The pain of adolescence is a second important theme of the novel. Maturing into adulthood is never easy for a young person, but Anne’s growing up is made even more difficult by the external war that rages around her, the cramped quarters which offer her no privacy or escape, and the constant fear of discovery and death.

A third important theme in the diary is the power of love. Surrounded by family and friends, Anne feels nurtured amidst the horror and turmoil of war. She knows that love is all-important and can conquer the worst of things. In spite of her miserable situation, Anne maintains a love of life and a belief in the basic goodness of mankind. Her unshakable faith in love and goodness gives her hope that everything will turn out all right.


Anne’s diary is filled with two sharply contrasting moods. On the surface, Anne’s mood is dark and depressing because of the war, the necessity of hiding, and the constant fear of discovery and death. The amazing thing is that amidst the horror of the war, Anne maintains an underlying optimistic, hopeful mood because of her faith in love and the goodness of man. Throughout the diary, her moods constantly swing between the depths of despair and the joy of being alive. Anne Frank’s diary is truly a tribute to humankind’s brave struggle for survival.

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