The Diary of a Young Girl is an account of the experiences of Anne Frank during the period of the Holocaust. The memoir explains everything that Anne went through during that time. Since its publication, The Diary of a Young Girl has been a remarkable memoir of the events of the Holocaust. The memoirs of Anne Frank describe the Second World War and its horrors, as well as some daily problems faced by a teenager. The book explores some crucial concepts that are related to the childhood development, as well as the turbulence experienced during her adolescence (Beech & Mark, 1998). With an analysis of events that Anne Frank went through, the diary summarizes the critical issues of the human development with regard to the theoretical explanations of Erik Erikson. This paper will critically review the memoirs of the girl and apply various theoretical assumptions, as well as the concepts that relate to the childhood development and the age of adolescence.
The book captures the reader’s imagination about some issues that relate to the childhood development. It describes atrocities, as well as the undesirable experiences during war periods. In the novel, the author gives a concise description of how people suffer during war times, as well as depicts the sufferings that families went through when there was the war. The vivid emotions, with which the author gives her experiences, enable a reader to understand the life of a teenager. As a Jew, Anne faced many challenges during the Second World War, especially due to the invasion of Holland by Germany. In the diary, the girl describes what she had gone through when her family went into hiding during the Holocaust. She describes these events with a lot of emotions just like a teenager may depict such experiences (Frank et al., 2001).
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When the hiding place of Anne’s family was discovered, they were moved to concentration camps by the German Secret Police. All the family members died (except Anne’s father) as a result of the life they had been subjected to by the Nazis. Anne Frank’s letters and diary are found by his father who later circulated it in the memory of her daughter, as well as her family. The book represents the thoughts of the young girl who lived under the conditions, which can be regarded as extraordinary. The diary tells more about the experiences that children went through at the age of adolescence. The experiences that Anne goes are the same ones, which children go through during their teenage years (Beech & Mark, 1998).
At the beginning of the diary, Anne has the hope that she will reveal all her experiences to someone. She has never found a person whom she could confide in or trust. Anne gives a description of some of friends that she has met while hiding. She forms the friendship with the familiars she met at the age of adolescence. She wishes to create bonds with her age mates. In the book, Anne expresses the feelings of loneliness just like any other adolescent may do. She decides to use the diary as a companion since she feels lonely and does not have a chance to associate with her friends. The book portrays the girl as a teen who portrays behavior, which is typical of such age. Her behavior encompasses being a playful, as well as social girl who likes to communicate with her friends (Frank et. al., 2001).
With regard to Erik Erikson’s stages of child development, Anne feels lonely since she is searching for her own identity. She is not comfortable to discuss her emotions with her close friends. This is the display of a shame and identity crisis, which any adolescent may feel. Anne experiences the changes in adolescence, which take place in her body. She does not learn adult roles despite the fact that she is growing. Anne does not receive the emotional support that she ought to get from others, especially her parents. The book portrays her as a girl who is desperate to get recognition and support from adults. However, she does not get the sustain she deserves for. Besides, she does not receive any encouragement, as well as strength that should be accorded to children when they are teenagers. Anne does not have trust in her father as he does not confide in him. This indicates that she may have developed some fears while being a child (Burston, 2007).
The book explores the challenges, which children go through during adolescence. As indicated by the girl’s experiences, children may find this challenging to express their views and seek help for their needs as compared to adults. As a result, they feel misunderstood, isolated and lonely. Isolation among children may be worsened by some experiences, which threaten the well being of kids. In the case of Anne, the events of the Holocaust that encompassed deprivation and poor conditions in the camps make her life complicated as she struggled to gain her identity as an adolescent (Burston, 2007).
The book also indicates the need for the affection during adolescence. This is seen when she looks for love from the cats in the annex. Anne considers Peter as a person that misses affection since he also plays with the cats. The book shows that friendship appearing between adolescents is due to the fact that they have something in common. For example, Anne develops a strong relationship with Peter since she speculates with the fact that they have too much in common. This indicates the search for friendship during adolescence when children feel that they should belong somewhere. During this teen period, they feel that they should form relationships since they are a crucial step towards becoming adults. As a result, Anne’s behavior means that the relationships are a crucial part of their life when they are adolescents. Teenagers need to realize that they have other people who care about them and have the willingness to communicate with them. This explains why Anne respects and values the relationship with Peter (Nunley & Snarey, 1998).
The book expresses some physical changes, which take place as a child experiences the transition from her childhood to adolescence. These experiences she is going through disrupt her maturity. Under some circumstances that can be regarded as unusual, the girl faces some challenges that the kid goes through while becoming a teen. She notices the physical changes taking place during her adolescence. The book presents Anne as a girl being perplexed by shifts, which are related to maturity and sexuality. Her identity is gained when she starts comparing herself to her mother, especially when she begins to view herself as a woman that is independent. The identity that the girl gets can be seen when she tries to compare herself with other women that are of the same generation as her mother (Frank et al., 2001).
In the book, readers have the opportunity to capture the thoughts of Anne, especially with regard to her future as a woman. She does not want to become like her mother is. This shows that adolescents have some exceptional aspirations, which do not match with the lifestyles of their adult counterparts. The concept of gender bias is evident in the book. Anne strives to overcome the challenges posed by the issues of prejudice, as well as a gender bias. According to the author, her future should be different from that of other women like her mother. The book takes the reader through some gender differences evident in the society. Anne wants to break away the prejudices, stereotypes and traditions, which have subjected women to unusual experiences in the community. As such, the book explores her dissatisfaction with the status quo and gender issues, which bring the inequality in the society (Heims, 2006).
The memoirs reflect the changes that occur when a child realizes that he or she is an adolescent who is catching up. For example, Anne becomes more thoughtful than before being a teenager. There is also much introspection of her life as she enters the next stage of her development. Burston (2007) asserts that these changes indicate that children keep on improving in terms of their thought patterns as they are growing. During adolescence, kids realize that they should be held responsible for their actions. Therefore, they start developing the forms of behavior that portray responsibility. There is a clear distinction between children and adolescents. Anne’s behavior is typical of an adolescent who has moved to a new stage of her development.
The girl experiences some conflicts in her inner self as she relates to other adult. She has an endless struggle to gain recognition from grown-ups. She faces a lot of criticism from the adults who do not approve of her behavior. Thus, the book shows the dissatisfaction that grown-ups have with the children’s behavior. They cannot put up with Anne’s behavior since they evaluate it as childish. In the real sense, the girl’s behavior is common during adolescence when children want to get the attention and affection from adults. With such behavior, Anne wants them to treat her with a lot of care and show some love towards her. However, she faces an identity crisis. Contrary to her expectations and aspirations, the grown-ups in her life do not accord her any special care. Rather they view her as a nuisance and disturbance to them (Heims, 2006).
The book also examines an issue of the role confusion as a major experience during the teen period. This confusion is evident here as Anne is confused of the role she should play when she becomes a mother. She is not certain of this that she ought to play in future, especially when she gets married. Anne is not content with the life that her mother lives. She thinks she will play a better role than her mother does. The role confusion affects her life as an adolescent and makes her feel she has become responsible enough to be treated like a grown-up. However, this does not happen as senior people around her still consider her a child (Nunley & Snarey, 1998).
The memoirs indicate the struggles with the inner self, which adolescents go through when they have become teenagers. Anne’s inner conflicts with her outer thoughts on her future are displayed as well. The book also portrays the desire of teens to form relationships with the members of the opposite sex as they become mature. For instance, the girl contends that she has stopped to long for the companionship with fellow women, but developed some feelings of intimacy with the members of the opposite sex. This explains why she is infatuated with Peter whom is romantically attracted to. She forms a close relationship with the boy. The body changes in the adolescent’s life prompt any teen to stay with the opposite sex. As a result, Anne feels that she should not be with other girls. She ought to be with a boy of her age. The teenage life presents some feelings of intimacy among children since they are developing some sexual features (Frank et al., 2001).
The girl faces the conflicts that adolescents have with their parents. For example, she does not get along well with her mother despite the fact that there may be some dangers. The book expresses the lack of critical thinking, which is a common aspect of the adolescent’s life. She does not fear of being arrested during the war. Rather she emphasizes too much on the experiences both in her family and at school. Anne does not seem to have any fear and her life seems to revolve around her educational and social life. This shows that adolescents do not have any concerns about the serious issues of their life. Sokol (2009) argues that the lives of teenagers mostly encompass exploring issues to do with their peers, as well as their performance at school. They are concerned with their performance at school since they believe that it determines their future. The book also brings out teens as the persons who express creativity, as well as some improvements in thinking patterns. They also exude much confidence and creativity since they wish to be recognized in the society.
With regard to family relations, Anne’s interaction with her parents seems to be strained. This is displayed by the fact that the girl rarely talks about the members of her family, especially in her early writings. In the diary, she introduces her family when she explains that they have gone hiding. All along, her family does not seem to play a crucial role in her life. This means that the family does not significantly affect her daily thoughts. Initially, she does not take the reader through the difficulties that she has faced with her mother. She only introduces them later on in the text. The scanty information she gives about her family indicates that she does not think a lot about them. She has too much going on in her life. This is the reason why she forgets about family relationships. Anne’s family members appear in her diary only because they have done something crucial, which she could be included in the diary (Heims, 2006).
Her mother, her father, as well as her sister appear in the book only because they have done something crucial that could help Anne to add something to her diary. When one reads it, it is clear that she is not preoccupied with the relationships existing between her and her parents. Anne’s attitude towards her family only changes when they are confined during the Holocaust. Therefore, Anne Frank’s diary can be regarded as the indicator of constraints in family relationships. Her interactions with her family members do no portray a true meaning of such relationships. She lives in her own world, which is totally different from that of her mother, her father and her sister (Sime & Frank, 2006).
The book is appealing to the reader since it gives the reflection of aspirations, as well as ambitions that children have during their adolescent years. At the age of being a teen, children have certain ambitions. They desire to make the society better than they have found it to be (Sokol, 2009). Anne’s experiences portray the aspirations of any adolescent who wishes to have a bright future ahead. She considers her future to be vivid. She has high hopes that her life will be better one day. However, fate does not give her any opportunity to live and see it. Most adolescents have childhood ambitions that they wish to achieve when they become of age. During the teen age, they identify the roles they wish to play when they are adults. Anne is no exception as she prepares for a bright future. She wishes to have it when she reaches her adulthood.
The critical look at the book shows that Anne expresses her freedom of expression since she writes the diary in her own perspective without considering the views of other people. Moreover, she expresses her views with regard to her own personal wishes. Thus, the book can be considered as subjective as well as biased since it does not give the real experiences of other people. It does not provide the reader with an objective view on the experiences during the adolescence time. It only comprises of Anne’s views and her perceptions of life, as well as how she appreciates adults. The girl does not give any account of the experiences of other people in her life. For instance, she avoids talking about her family when the diary begins. She only brings her family members in the limelight later in the story (Sime & Frank, 2006).
The book is also inadequate in explaining the experiences of children during the period. Anne does not take the reader through the events of other children. Although it gives a hint on the experiences that people had during childhood, the views of the novel cannot be regarded as comprehensive and all-inclusive. The author only talks of her childhood experiences without any due regard to the incidents of other kids. The memoirs should have incorporated this, other than Anne in order to make it comprehensive for covering the issues related to the child’s development. To sum up, diverse experiences of different children are not provided here. Despite this inadequacy, Anne’s memoirs describe the stage of adolescence (Sime & Frank, 2006).
Based on Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of the childhood development, Anne Frank can be said to be in the 5th stage of identity vs. the role confusion. This step occurs during the transition from childhood to adulthood. During it, children start developing the feelings of independence. They also begin perceiving their future with regard to families, careers as well as relationships that they are going to have. This is a significant stage during the development since the child has to learn of the roles played by adults. Children revisit their identity during this stage and strive to understand who they are. It involves the realization of two identities, which comprise of the occupational and sexual identity. From the book, one can deduce that Anne does her own explorations upon which she forms the identity based on what she learns while exploring. She feels confused when she does not understand her rightful place in the society. However, she later regains her confidence when she understands what she wants to become in future (Sokol, 2009).
In conclusion, Anne Frank’s diary can be regarded as the indication of experiences that children have gone through during their adolescence. Anne faces many difficulties as she tries to express herself in the presence of other people. What strikes me about the book is that the experiences indicate the turbulence and challenges posed by adolescence. This shows that adolescents desire to form the relationships with other society’s members as well as establish strong ties with others. Being in the 5th stage of psychosocial development, Anne wants to be identified by her peers as well as adults in her surroundings. As she reaches adolescence, she starts to recognize the role she wants to play when becoming an adult.
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