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

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FREE STUDY GUIDE: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

MAJOR CHARACTERS

Mrs. Frank

Mrs. Frank was born in 1900 as Edith Hollander in Aachen, Germany. Since her family was financially well off, they had servants, and Edith lived a life of ease. In 1925, she married Otto Frank, a man eleven years older than she. They lived a comfortable life in Frankfurt, Germany, where both Margot and Anne were born. In 1933, Mrs. Frank and her family moved to Amsterdam, Holland, to escape Hitler’s persecution of the Jews in Germany. In 1942, she went into hiding with her family, for the Nazis had invaded Holland. After she and her family were discovered and captured, she was sent to Auschwitz, where she literally lost her mind and refused to eat. She died in her bed there on January 6, 1945, only a few days before the Jews were freed from the camp.


Mrs. Frank, As Portrayed in the Diary

Throughout the diary, Anne presents her mother, Mrs. Frank, in a negative way. It must be remembered, however, that Anne, the rebellious adolescent, sees her mother as an irritating figure of authority, and Mrs. Frank must surely resent Anne’s rejection of her. Additionally, Mrs. Frank is particularly miserable in the annex, for she is from a rich family, where she knew the finest things in life and never had to work. As a result, the confining, cramped quarters of the annex, the scarcity of basic necessities, and the hard work are real irritations to her. She often takes out her frustrations on her chattering, sometimes irritating, younger daughter. She also criticizes Anne for talking too much and being too moody and uncooperative. Under the trying circumstances, it is not surprising that Anne thinks Mrs. Frank is far less than an ideal mother.

Mrs. Frank proves that she is not a particularly wise or strong woman. She was obviously partial to Margot, for she found her older daughter easier. Unlike Anne, Margot was quiet, obedient, and patient. Mrs. Frank also thought she was more beautiful, talented, and intelligent. Anne sensed the partiality, which only intensified her negative feelings about her mother. Additionally, Mrs. Frank was basically weak. She was so upset about going into hiding that she went to bed and was unable to help with the unpacking. When there is bickering in the annex, she does nothing to stop it. When the young people are bored, she doesn’t prepare them lessons or find them entertainment; instead, she lets her husband entirely run the show. It is not surprising that Anne does not want to grow up and be like her.

Otto Frank

Otto Frank was born into a wealthy Jewish family and raised in Frankfurt, Germany. Like his father, he went into business for himself after graduating from high school. During World War I, he joined the German army and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. After the war, he returned to Frankfurt and continued in his business that specialized in banking. At the age of 36, he married Edith Hollander, a wealthy young woman who was eleven years younger than he. He moved his family to Holland in 1933, where he remained until his capture by the Nazis.

Mr. Frank felt terrible that his friends Koophuis and Kraler were also arrested by the Gestapo for helping to hide his family; but he felt hopeful that all of them would survive until the end of the war, for the Allied forces were making advances against Germany. Before being sent to Westerbork, Frank expressed his appreciation to Koophuis for his help and his regret over his capture. Koophuis tried to comfort Otto Frank, telling him that he had helped because he wanted to try and save the lives of the Franks.

At Westerbork, Frank was separated from his wife and daughters, but he was permitted to visit them regularly in the female barracks. He always tried to cheer them up, pointing out that surely the war was close to ending and that they might all escape the concentration camps. Unfortunately, Otto’s predictions did not come true, and the Franks were sent to Auschwitz, in the very last trainload of prisoners shipped out of Holland. Upon arrival, the men were separated from the women; it was the last time Otto Frank was ever to see his family.

In January of 1945, when the Nazi guards left Auschwitz, taking most of the prisoners with them, Mr. Frank was left behind because he was in the infirmary, where he stayed until the camp was liberated by the Russians in February. After the war was over, he tried unsuccessfully to find his family. In reality, he was the only one of the occupants of the secret annex to survive the war. His wife and children all died of typhus in the concentration camps.

Frank finally returned to Amsterdam and contacted Miep and Elli, who gave Frank the diary that Anne had written and left behind in the annex. As a tribute to her, he decided to have the diary published in 1947, but he seldom talked about what had happened to his family, for it was too painful. Otto Frank lived the rest of his days in Switzerland and died there on August 19, 1980.


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