Definition Essay – Samantha Kovnat


Another word that definitely needs to be defined, is “Diary.” Anne Frank and the word diary go hand in hand; ask any 8th grader if they know anything about Anne Frank, and one could bet that the next sentence out of their mouth would contain the word “Diary”. One could define the word “diary” as any longstanding record of personal reflections, feelings, log of events, activities, or otherwise. These documents are often times found to have some sort of format or structural pattern commonly containing a header, date, “dear, so and so,” or even signing of each entry. Besides having a structure and personal content, most diaries contain the author’s unedited, unselfconscious voice that is often times brutally honest since they do not have intentions of others viewing the book. This definition could be considered accurate for Anne’s writing up until March 29th 1944; the day Anne heard the broadcast that influenced her to edit the diary so that it could be published after the war. From that point on, the word “diary” doesn’t seem quite accurate.

Now that we have defined 3/4ths of Anne’s work as a true diary, or at least having started that way, there is the matter of the last fourth of the book technically being written in a conscious manner, which in a way breaks the true sense of a diary. Diaries are secret friends you can confide in shamelessly, and not fret over anyone judging, or getting upset over your thoughts. Anne began writing with this innocent mentality that holds strong for much of the book, but once you are aware of how she went back and ferociously edited, deleted, added, reworded, and rewrote her previous entries, it makes one question the integrity of her initial pages. One understands how she no longer wields the pen like it was her friend, aiding in the self-expression she so much craved, she wields it like a tool, a tool to keep her alive.

Often times creation is the only medicine one has, and so one dives into it with back arched, arms above their head piercing through the cool surface, breath held, until they reach the other side, and come to the surface, healthy, proud, goal achieved. They do not always know how long they will be submerged for, but they change it in hopes of greatness. Anne joined those artists, creators at the edge of the deep end, she dived arms first into the water, she began to create, tweak, improve, smooth over, adjust flow, she worked, and worked, and the edge of the pool was not in sight, only in the back of her mind did she see the loom of greatness. The deadline for her work was impermanently blurred; everyday could be her final, but her work was not finished, and so on one breath, she pushed forward. Since she was under this surface, consumed by her artistic endeavor, she has massive amounts of stress that pushed her onward, all of this stress is what sped up, and condensed her gift with the pen. Her ability was reached far sooner than her inner time-clock anticipated. Giving her the ability to transition her so-called “Diary” into what could be considered a memoir.

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4 Responses to Definition Essay – Samantha Kovnat

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Sammy, as you may recall, I write feedback as I read your essay, so you’ll understand how at least one reader is responding to your argument as it unfolds. I hope you find this helpful.

    P1. Technical problems first. Franks should be a possessive. Straightforward is one word. While I like the verb translate, it can’t be passive here. The book contains somber energy or it doesn’t. Readers don’t provide it through translation. Maybe you mean it transmutes, mutates, or transitions.

    If the concept of the book as a lifeboat is yours, Sammy, it’s odd that you argue with it yourself. On the other hand, if you’re reacting to someone else’s characterization of the book, provide the source.

    Finally, where’s the transition (in fact, where’s the connection?) between the lifeboat metaphor and the dark energy? They appear to have nothing in common.

    P2. You succeed here in identifying the value of the diary for Anne as a way to cope with hell. The concept does not seem to relate organically to a lifeboat, and its relationship to dark and somber energy is subliminal at best. It’s unclear what term you mean to define here.

    P3. The best I can tell, you’ve been working toward a definition—sort of—of diary in your first two paragraphs.

    You certainly can’t use this for your portfolio as is, Sammy, but you should revise it for a grade improvement even if you don’t include it in your final collection, just so it doesn’t hurt your overall course grade too much.

    I would think it wouldn’t be too hard to contrast the common contents of a teenage girl’s diary with the more substantial purpose to which Anne put her own. By doing so, you’d be “defining” this book as much more than a common diary and at the same time “defining” Anne’s purpose as much more than merely a sounding board for her own mixed feelings about life.

    Does this help? Grade recorded.

  2. kovnat77 says:

    Professor Hodges,
    I added the portion I had written this weekend to my Definition Essay, and will go back and edit the part in blue you have already graded.
    Thank you so much for your time.

  3. davidbdale says:

    Thanks, Sammy.
    It seems so far you haven’t revised the blue section, so we’ll leave that alone for now. Let me just respond briefly to your new material.

    P3. Sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t fail for grammar Rule 7. I appreciate very much that you want to distinguish Anne’s diary from the dictionary definition, at least as her writing matures, but it’s not necessary (in fact it seems amateurish, pardon me for saying so) to quote Webster. Consider more casually claiming that Anne’s “diary” is not what we commonly understand the diary of a teenage girl to be: your own interpretation of what that is will be more effective than the bland Webster definition, because, frankly, Anne’s diary does in fact conform to the Webster definition, strictly speaking.

    P4. There are, of course, no “rules” for diary writing. Anne’s doesn’t fail to live up to its requirements. It simply doesn’t conform to our expectations. You might say its publishers are to blame for promoting the book as a diary and therefore setting up those expectations for us. (But really, what choice did they have? The entries are dated, the book is addressed as Kitty; Frank herself established the format, even if she radically departed from its ordinary “rules.”)

    P5. Lovely, Sammy.

    P5. “She did not have a deadline” is weirdly jarring and our objection interrupts your flow. Authors writing against a terminal illness and Anne have the same deadline (all writers do, of course, unwittingly). You mean she didn’t have a publisher imposing a deadline.

    “What could be considered a memoir” is not brave enough. Your thesis demands that you call her book a memoir, not merely indicate that others might consider it so.

    Grade revised. You may edit this once more and alert me to your changes if you wish.

  4. kovnat77 says:

    I have edited this a bit more, just to let you know!

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