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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant March 1, 2007

Posted by pvccbookclub in Current Discussion.

Even people well-acquainted with the Bible, may not be familiar with the story of Dinah. She was thRed Tente daughter of the great patriarch, Jacob, and his wife, Leah. According to the biblical tale, Dinah was “defiled” by the prince of the region, Shalem. Shalem falls in love with Dinah and attempts to negotiate a marriage deal with Jacob and the male members of his family. However, Jacob’s sons betray the conditions of the arrangement in a particularly violent way.

Anita Diamant tells this story from the perpective of the women involved, and as you can imagine, it reads as an entirely different story. It also gives us insight into the lives of women during early Biblical times.

Questions to consider for discussion:

1) Read Genesis 34 and discuss how The Red Tent changes your perspective on Dinah’s story and also on the story of Joseph that follows. Does The Red Tent raise questions about other women in the Bible? Does it make you want to re-read the Bible and imagine other untold stories that lay hidden between the lines?

2) Discuss the marital dynamics of Jacob’s family. He has four wives; compare his relationship with each woman?

3) What do you make of the relationships among the four wives? And of Dinah’s relationship with each of her “mothers”?

4) Childbearing and childbirth are central to The Red Tent. How do the fertility childbearing and birthing practices differ from contemporary life? How are they similar? How do they compare with your own experiences as a mother or father?

5) Discuss Jacob’s role as a father. Does he treat Dinah differently from his sons? Does he feel differently about her? If so, how?

6) Female relationships figure largely in The Red Tent. Discuss the importance of Inna, Tabea, Werenro, and Meryt.

7) Dinah’s point of view is often one of an outsider, an observer. What effect does this have on the narrative? What effect does this have on the reader?