Bryan only there were no other people in


     While most of the works examined during
the course are constructed as fictional allegories or presented from outside
the time and/or space within which the Holocaust occurs, the Diary of a Young Girl presents a unique
and unembellished perspective from which the atrocities are observed. As the
title would suggest, it is a private account of the beginning of adolescent
life with the fog of Nazi rule in the background. What makes the journal more
distinguished is the deep intimacy the author has with herself; Frank knows
herself so well that the Holocaust does not serve to torture or perplex her but
rather feed her innate curiosity of a blossoming teenager and inform her
worldview and attitude towards humanity. In other words, Anne remains separate from
the Holocaust in that she doesn’t surrender her identity to the political
paradigm as a victim or state enemy but her personality still matures along its
lines – through the witness of human traits revealed through Nazi prejudice and
behavior. This is because, I believe, that Anne doesn’t have to remember the
Holocaust but lives it as a tragedy-in-progress, which makes the diary sharply
objective yet powerfully heart-wrenching and, most importantly, different from
the works analyzed in class in a significant way. Primo Levi and Ruth Kluger,
for example, are distanced from the Holocaust by time and they can only analyze
the effect of the Holocaust on their personalities through the memories that
struck them the hardest after the fact. While these two authors might have
shared the feelings of isolation and alienation with Anne Frank during the Holocaust,
only Anne Frank illustrates the wide-ranging effects of these feelings as she
records them in real-time, which forms an important different between her diary
and If This is a Man and A Girlhood Remembered. While these two
authors I can pinpoint certain motifs employed and issues raised through which
this difference can be thoroughly analyzed.

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     “I get
cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part
on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way
to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if . . . if only there were
no other people in the world.” This ends Frank’s diary and while it was not
intended to, it strikes the heart to see her time within the annex end on a
manifestation of one of the book’s most prevalent and tragic themes: the inward
dichotomy of Frank’s selves; throughout the entire diary, Anne divides herself
into two: the lively, excited, sociable Anne she exercises for the satisfaction
of others and the melancholy persona known only to her. She herself is aware of
this divide at an early age, though it starts to preoccupy her mind more and
more over time. Early-on in the entries she explains that though she is very
sociable on the outside, she feels she does not have anyone to whom she can reveal
her inner self and regretting that she doesn’t. This nurses a frustration that
she does not know how to share her feelings, and she fears that this makes her
a bad person.

struggle with her two selves throughout the diary is what separates the diary
and the work with which it is most similar: Ruth Kluger’s Still Alive. Kluger’s observations of her childhood are blunt and
unsparing, untainted by the illusions of early adolescence; after a lifetime of
contemplation of her Auschwitz years, she has identified and picked her entire
adolescent phase and her coming-of-age story is laid out in a somber greyscale and
toned by Kluger’s prideful attitude of resignation into a coming-to-terms
memoir. Frank’s diary, on the other hand is written day-by-day, and her budding
womanhood carried silently through Holocaust as it unravels. There is no
after-the-storm setting from which to look back and figure out what happened
and why, leaving only the slow education of Frank in the principles and
caprices of human nature.

     “Can you
tell me why people go to such lengths to hide their real selves?” This is the
question that Anne asks later on in the diary and gives us readers the
suspicion that Anne may be discovering that the feelings of alienation and
covert personalities that she experiences may be shared with others. This
contemplation prompts Anne to start thinking about others in terms of their
underlying motivations and inner principles. Along the journey after this point
in the diary, not only does Anne starts signing her diary with “Anne M. Frank”
which represents a stronger sense of self, but her relationship with Peter van
Daan grows more pronounced and turbulent only to tangle the lines of tension
between the prisoners: both Mr. Frank and Mrs. van Dann express disapproval of
the relationship at different points as the conversations and interactions
between the adolescents become more experimental and sexually charged. This is
all part of the personal odyssey on which young people embark when puberty
descends. You start to understand people more as layered beings rather than
just flat personalities with obvious motivations and you start to discover and understand
yourself better, forming habits and convictions based on the experiences you’ve
had socially and with your family members.


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