In The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne describes the complicated movements of her identity during her time in hiding. Trapped in the Secret Annex, Anne explores her identity as daughter, lover, sister, friend, war reporter, philosopher, historian, religious scholar, student, and writer, just to name a few aspects. Anne identifies herself as Jewish, in terms of her cultural heritage, and, to some degree, her religion.
Like the Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, gay people, and others considered different, Anne, as a Jew, is considered by the Nazi regime to belong to a “race” that doesn't deserve to exist. The tension between this and the personal identity Anne is trying to develop drives her account.
Questions About Identity
- Anne identifies herself as being “two Annes” several times in her diary. What do you think she means by this? Is her identity only split in two, or are there three Annes, or four Annes?
- Anne describes some of the ways Jewish people were required to identify themselves as such, including the wearing of a yellow star. What are some other forms of official identification she describes? How are these similar to and different from the official forms of identification you or people you know are required to use (think school identification, birth certificate, etc.)
- How does Anne’s identity as a daughter conflict with and/or complement her identity as a person in a romantic relationship?
- Does Anne’s imagination play a role or roles in her identity? If so, in what ways? If not, how is her imagination separate from her identity?
- What are some of the ways Anne’s identity has changed from when we first meet her, before she goes into hiding? Are the changes ones that she chose or ones that were forced upon her?
Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
“Writer” is the strongest aspect of Anne’s identity.
As one result of the negative identity imposed on Anne by the Nazis, Anne’s self esteem gets lower and lower throughout her diary.