Study Guide

The Diary of Anne Frank Selfishness

By Anne Frank

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Throughout The Diary of Anne Frank, there are examples of pettiness in sharing personal items with everybody. For example, Mrs. van Daan does not want her sheets to be used, yet expects to use the Franks’ sheets. Mrs. Frank does not want to use her dinnerware, yet expects the van Daans dinnerware to be used.

The generosity and self-sacrifice of the men and women who save the eight people in the Secret Annex are contrasted throughout the diary with Mrs. van Daan and Mr. Dussel, who hoard personal belongings and space and who fail to thank those who give them shelter in a time of desperate need.

Questions About Selfishness

  1. Which characters demonstrate generosity? Which characters demonstrate greed and selfishness? Why are some people generous and some greedy?

  2. Does uncertainty about the future lead to greater generosity or increased selfishness? Is it easier to be generous if you have more to lose? Or is it easier to be greedy when you have more to lose? Who had more to lose, the Jews in the Secret Annex or their protectors?

Chew on This

Even though we might like to criticize Mrs. van Daan’s clinging to her belongings, her apparent stinginess and pettiness is merely a manifestation of the greater stress she was living under, not a consistent character defect.

Although the protectors should be commended for their selflessness and bravery, it is also true that they had less at stake than the members of the Secret Annex.

In Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, isolation causes greed.

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