The diary of a young gir.., p.30
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.30Anne Frank
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SATURDAY, JULY 8, 1944
Mr. Broks was in Beverwijk and managed to get hold of strawberries at the produce auction. They arrived here dusty and full of sand, but in large quantities. No less than twenty-four crates for the office and us. That very same evening we canned the first six jars and made eight jars of jam. The next morning Miep started making jam for the office.
At twelve-thirty the outside door was locked, crates were lugged into the kitchen, with Peter, Father and Mr. van Daan stumbling up the stairs. Anne got hot water from the water heater, Margot went for a bucket, all hands on deck! With a funny feeling in my stomach, I entered the overcrowded office kitchen. Miep, Bep, Mr. Kleiman, Jan, Father, Peter: the Annex contingent and the Supply Corps all mixed up together, and that in the middle of the day! Curtains and windows open, loud voices, banging doors—I was trembling with excitement. I kept thinking, “Are we really in hiding?” This must be how it feels when you can finally go out into the world again. The pan was full, so I dashed upstairs, where the rest of the family was hulling strawberries around the kitchen table. At least that’s what they were supposed to be doing, but more was going into their mouths than into the buckets. They were bound to need another bucket soon. Peter went back downstairs, but then the doorbell rang twice. Leaving the bucket where it was, Peter raced upstairs and shut the bookcase behind him. We sat kicking our heels impatiently; the strawberries were waiting to be rinsed, but we stuck to the house rule: “No running water when strangers are downstairs—they might hear the drains.”
Jan came up at one to tell us it had been the mailman. Peter hurried downstairs again. Ding-dong … the doorbell, about-face. I listened to hear if anyone was coming, standing first at the bookcase, then at the top of the stairs. Finally Peter and I leaned over the banister, straining our ears like a couple of burglars to hear the sounds from downstairs. No unfamiliar voices. Peter tiptoed halfway down the stairs and called out, “Bep!” Once more: “Bep!” His voice was drowned out by the racket in the kitchen. So he ran down to the kitchen while I nervously kept watch from above.
“Go upstairs at once, Peter, the accountant’s here, you’ve got to leave!” It was Mr. Kugler’s voice. Sighing, Peter came upstairs and closed the bookcase.
Mr. Kugler finally came up at one-thirty. “My gosh, the whole world’s turned to strawberries. I had strawberries for breakfast, Jan’s having them for lunch, Kleiman’s eating them as a snack, Miep’s boiling them, Bep’s hulling them, and I can smell them everywhere I go. I come upstairs to get away from all that red and what do I see? People washing strawberries!”
The rest of the strawberries were canned. That evening: two jars came unsealed. Father quickly turned them into jam. The next morning: two more lids popped up; and that afternoon: four lids. Mr. van Daan hadn’t gotten the jars hot enough when he was sterilizing them, so Father ended up making jam every evening. We ate hot cereal with strawberries, buttermilk with strawberries, bread with strawberries, strawberries for dessert, strawberries with sugar, strawberries with sand. For two days there was nothing but strawberries, strawberries, strawberries, and then our supply was either exhausted or in jars, safely under lock and key.
“Hey, Anne,” Margot called out one day, “Mrs. van Hoeven has let us have some peas, twenty pounds!”
“That’s nice of her,” I replied. And it certainly was, but it’s so much work … ugh!
“On Saturday, you’ve all got to shell peas,” Mother announced at the table.
And sure enough, this morning after breakfast our biggest enamel pan appeared on the table, filled to the brim with peas. If you think shelling peas is boring work, you ought to try removing the inner linings. I don’t think many people realize that once you’ve pulled out the linings, the pods are soft, delicious and rich in vitamins. But an even greater advantage is that you get nearly three times as much as when you eat just the peas.
Stripping pods is a precise and meticulous job that might be suited to pedantic dentists or finicky spice experts, but it’s a horror for an impatient teenager like me. We started work at nine-thirty; I sat down at ten-thirty, got up again at eleven, sat down again at eleven-thirty. My ears were humming with the following refrain: snap the end, strip the pod, pull the string, pod in the pan, snap the end, strip the pod, pull the string, pod in the pan, etc., etc. My eyes were swimming: green, green, worm, string, rotten pod, green, green. To fight the boredom and have something to do, I chattered all morning, saying whatever came into my head and making everyone laugh. The monotony was killing me. Every string I pulled made me more certain that I never, ever, want to be just a housewife!
At twelve we finally ate breakfast, but from twelve-thirty to one-fifteen we had to strip pods again. When I stopped, I felt a bit seasick, and so did the others. I napped until four, still in a daze because of those wretched peas.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SATURDAY, JULY 15, 1944
We’ve received a book from the library with the challenging title What Do You Think of the Modern Young Girl? I’d like to discuss this subject today.
The writer criticizes “today’s youth” from head to toe, though without dismissing them all as “hopeless cases.” On the contrary, she believes they have it within their power to build a bigger, better and more beautiful world, but that they occupy themselves with superficial things, without giving a thought to true beauty.
In some passages I had the strong feeling that the writer was directing her disapproval at me, which is why I finally want to bare my soul to you and defend myself against this attack.
I have one outstanding character trait that must be obvious to anyone who’s known me for any length of time: I have a great deal of self-knowledge. In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger. I can stand across from the everyday Anne and, without being biased or making excuses, watch what she’s doing, both the good and the bad. This self-awareness never leaves me, and every time I open my mouth, I think, “You should have said that differently” or “That’s fine the way it is.” I condemn myself in so many ways that I’m beginning to realize the truth of Father’s adage: “Every child has to raise itself.” Parents can only advise their children or point them in the right direction. Ultimately, people shape their own characters. In addition, I face life with an extraordinary amount of courage. I feel so strong and capable of bearing burdens, so young and free! When I first realized this, I was glad, because it means I can more easily withstand the blows life has in store.
But I’ve talked about these things so often. Now I’d like to turn to the chapter “Father and Mother Don’t Understand Me.” My parents have always spoiled me rotten, treated me kindly, defended me against the van Daans and done all that parents can. And yet for the longest time I’ve felt extremely lonely, left out, neglected and misunderstood. Father did everything he could to curb my rebellious spirit, but it was no use. I’ve cured myself by holding my behavior up to the light and looking at what I was doing wrong.
Why didn’t Father support me in my struggle? Why did he fall short when he tried to offer me a helping hand? The answer is: he used the wrong methods. He always talked to me as if I were a child going through a difficult phase. It sounds crazy, since Father’s the only one who’s given me a sense of confidence and made me feel as if I’m a sensible person. But he overlooked one thing: he failed to see that this struggle to triumph over my difficulties was more important to me than anything else. I didn’t want to hear about “typical adolescent problems,” or “other girls,” or “you’ll grow out of it.” I didn’t want to be treated the same as all-the-other-girls, but as Anne-in-her-own-right, and Pim didn’t understand that. Besides, I can’t confide in anyone unless they tell me a lot about themselves, and because I know very little about him, I can’t get on a more intimate footing. Pim always acts like the elderly father who once had the same fleeting impulses, but who can no l
I couldn’t have done it any other way. I’ve let myself be guided entirely by my feelings. It was egotistical, but I’ve done what was best for my own peace of mind. I would lose that, plus the self-confidence I’ve worked so hard to achieve, if I were to be subjected to criticism halfway through the job. It may sound hard-hearted, but I can’t take criticism from Pim either, because not only do I never share my innermost thoughts with him, but I’ve pushed him even further away by being irritable.
This is a point I think about quite often: why is it that Pim annoys me so much sometimes? I can hardly bear to have him tutor me, and his affection seems forced. I want to be left alone, and I’d rather he ignored me for a while until I’m more sure of myself when I’m talking to him! I’m still torn with guilt about the mean letter I wrote him when I was so upset. Oh, it’s hard to be strong and brave in every way!
Still, this hasn’t been my greatest disappointment. No, I think about Peter much more than I do Father. I know very well that he was my conquest, and not the other way around. I created an image of him in my mind, pictured him as a quiet, sweet, sensitive boy badly in need of friendship and love! I needed to pour out my heart to a living person. I wanted a friend who would help me find my way again. I accomplished what I set out to do and drew him, slowly but surely, toward me. When I finally got him to be my friend, it automatically developed into an intimacy that, when I think about it now, seems outrageous. We talked about the most private things, but we haven’t yet touched upon the things closest to my heart. I still can’t make head or tail of Peter. Is he superficial, or is it shyness that holds him back, even with me? But putting all that aside, I made one mistake: I used intimacy to get closer to him, and in doing so, I ruled out other forms of friendship. He longs to be loved, and I can see he’s beginning to like me more with each passing day. Our time together leaves him feeling satisfied, but just makes me want to start all over again. I never broach the subjects I long to bring out into the open. I forced Peter, more than he realizes, to get close to me, and now he’s holding on for dear life. I honestly don’t see any effective way of shaking him off and getting him back on his own two feet. I soon realized he could never be a kindred spirit, but still tried to help him break out of his narrow world and expand his youthful horizons.
“Deep down, the young are lonelier than the old.” I read this in a book somewhere and it’s stuck in my mind. As far as I can tell, it’s true.
So if you’re wondering whether it’s harder for the adults here than for the children, the answer is no, it’s certainly not. Older people have an opinion about everything and are sure of themselves and their actions. It’s twice as hard for us young people to hold on to our opinions at a time when ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when the worst side of human nature predominates, when everyone has come to doubt truth, justice and God.
Anyone who claims that the older folks have a more difficult time in the Annex doesn’t realize that the problems have a far greater impact on us. We’re much too young to deal with these problems, but they keep thrusting themselves on us until, finally, we’re forced to think up a solution, though most of the time our solutions crumble when faced with the facts. It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.
It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realize them!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
FRIDAY, JULY 21, 1944
I’m finally getting optimistic. Now, at last, things are going well! They really are! Great news! An assassination attempt has been made on Hitler’s life, and for once not by Jewish Communists or English capitalists, but by a German general who’s not only a count, but young as well. The Führer owes his life to “Divine Providence”: he escaped, unfortunately, with only a few minor burns and scratches. A number of the officers and generals who were nearby were killed or wounded. The head of the conspiracy has been shot.
This is the best proof we’ve had so far that many officers and generals are fed up with the war and would like to see Hitler sink into a bottomless pit, so they can establish a military dictatorship, make peace with the Allies, rearm themselves and, after a few decades, start a new war. Perhaps Providence is deliberately biding its time getting rid of Hitler, since it’s much easier, and cheaper, for the Allies to let the impeccable Germans kill each other off. It’s less work for the Russians and the British, and it allows them to start rebuilding their own cities all that much sooner. But we haven’t reached that point yet, and I’d hate to anticipate the glorious event. Still, you’ve probably noticed that I’m telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For once, I’m not rattling on about high ideals.
Furthermore, Hitler has been so kind as to announce to his loyal, devoted people that as of today all military personnel are under orders of the Gestapo, and that any soldier who knows that one of his superiors was involved in this cowardly attempt on the Führer’s life may shoot him on sight!
A fine kettle of fish that will be. Little Johnny’s feet are sore after a long march and his commanding officer bawls him out. Johnny grabs his rifle, shouts, “You, you tried to kill the Führer. Take that!” One shot, and the snooty officer who dared to reprimand him passes into eternal life (or is it eternal death?). Eventually, every time an officer sees a soldier or gives an order, he’ll be practically wetting his pants, because the soldiers have more say-so than he does.
Were you able to follow that, or have I been skipping from one subject to another again? I can’t help it, the prospect of going back to school in October is making me too happy to be logical! Oh dear, didn’t I just get through telling you I didn’t want to anticipate events? Forgive me, Kitty, they don’t call me a bundle of contradictions for nothing!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
TUESDAY, AUGUST 1, 1944
“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within. The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.
As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-color joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me. Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker—a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not parti
I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “lighthearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.
So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am … on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why—no, I’m sure that’s the reason why—I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.
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