Conflict between generations

Puberty and adolescence 

The term puberty describes a period of about four years (10-14) during which physical changes transform a child's body into an adult's body enabling them to reproduce. Anne is a pubescent girl who admits in her diary to longing for her first period. She reflects on what happened on January 6, 1944: 

Yesterday I read an article on blushing by Sis Heyster. (…) What she basically says is that during puberty girls withdraw into themselves and begin thinking about the wondrous changes taking place in their bodies. (…) Whenever I get my period (and that’s only been three times), I have the feeling that in spite of all the pain, discomfort and mess, I’m carrying around a sweet secret. (39%).

The term adolescence refers to the long period of about ten years (10-20) between childhood and adulthood. During this developmental phase, when children mature into independent adults, adolescents, or teenagers, separate from the parental home, which usually causes a variety of problems and tensions.

Although Margot and Peter are in this phase of life, they act in a largely reserved and well-behaved manner due to the extraordinary situation in which they find themselves. Anne thinks that Peter and Margot behave far too maturely and boringly. Even though the adults repeatedly declare them to be role models, Anne is determined never to become so well-behaved and conformist.

During puberty, feelings and imagination have a particularly strong influence on thoughts. Adolescents are troubled by extraordinarily strong feelings, which often makes them appear dogmatic and radical in their views. This intense emotional experience often leads to imbalance, mood swings, or lack of self-control, which manifests itself in a variety of ways: contradictory attitude, distrust, easily irritated character, or stubbornness. Anne reflects on this process in her diary shortly before Christmas 1942: 

Oh, I’m becoming so sensible! We’ve got to be reasonable about everything we do here: studying, listening, holding our tongues, helping others, being kind, making compromises and I don’t know what else! I’m afraid my common sense, which was in short supply to begin with, will be used up too quickly and I won’t have any left by the time the war is over. (23%).

A major point of conflict in this period arises from the adolescents' need for more freedom, while parents still want to protect their children from danger. Old...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in