The Diary of Anne Frank
During World War II Anne Frank lived and died—probably one of the most vital, cunning and vibrant youths that has ever lived. This text sample is from her famous diary and expresses her concern for her friend Peter and his lacking ability to take his life in his own hands.
Thursday, 6th July, 1944
My heart goes heavy when Peter says he may become a criminal or start to gamble. Naturally it is meant as a joke, but I have still got the feeling that he is afraid of his own weakness. Over and over again Margot and Peter tell me: "Yes, well, if I was as strong and brave as you are, if I could have my will the way you do, if I had such endurance, well then!"
Is it really a good trait that I am so uninfluenced? Is it good that I mostly follow my own conscience?
Honestly, I can't imagine how anyone could say "I am weak", and then continue to be weak. When one knows, why doesn't Peter do anything about it, why not build his character? His answer was: "Because it is much more comfortable." This answer made me a little bit depressed. Comfortable? Does a lazy and deceitful life entail a comfortable life? Oh no, it can't be true! It must not be true that convenience and money can seduce that quickly. I keep wondering what to answer him, how I am going to make Peter believe in himself, and most importantly, to improve himself. I don't know if my train of thought is right.
Some questions and themes
Strong and weak character
1. Do you have a strong character if you:
- always act according to your own will?
- always let your conscience decide what to do?
- never show fear? never are afraid?
- never in doubt about anything?
- never let anybody influence you?
- refrain from all that is indecent?
- always do the opposite of what is expected or accepted?
2. Consider the following examples. Are there situations when you can do these things without thereby necessarily having a weak character?
- to have a cigarette even though you have quit smoking
- to fall in love with another person than the one you are married to/live together with
- to yield oneself to another persons wish
- to prefer that which is pleasant and comfortable
- to desire fame and wealth
3. If you come to that you have a weak character, is there then any reason to that kind of fear that Anne claims that Peter has? Fear for what?
- fear for the comtempt from that others?
- fear for unhappiness?
- fear for making other people unhappy?
- fear for punishment?
- given that a weak character expresses itself as hedonism—from where comes the punishment? from God? from other people? from one's own conscience? ...and from where comes the conscience then?
Freedom or character determinism
1. Margot and Peter claim it is easy for Anne to have a strong character because she seems to possess courage, willpower, endurance etc. in the first place.
- People are born with different looks and different corporeal traits. Is the character of a person also given genetically?
- One could say: even though the character itself is innate, it could be trained to become better just like a body can build strength or the capacity of a mind can increase by long-term exercise. But the question is: can a character that is weak from the start become as strong as the character that is strong from the start?
- Define weakness and strength in a character.
2. Anne says she is uninfluenced. At the same time she asserts that she follows her own conscience. Couldn't we say then that she is influenced by her own conscience?
3. Anne can't understand that someone can realize their own weakness without doing anything about it, without trying to build one's character.
- Do you think Peter has difficulty understanding why Anne—while realizing her strong character—doesn't do anything about it, why she doesn't "downbuild" it? Is Peter missing something by not building his character? Is Anne missing something by not "downbuilding" her character?
- Has Anne responsibility for Peter's character? Has she got anything to do with it?If so: what could she do to actually help Peter?
- What would the society be like if everybody had a weak character? What if everybody had a strong character, like Anne?
Page created: 27.09.06. Page last modified: 28.09.06 21:45.