The Red Tent | Study Guide

Anita Diamant

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The Red Tent | Quotes


Attending her sister's births made her wish to become part of the great mother-mystery.

Dinah, Part 1, Chapter 3

Bilhah feels a desire to be a mother and thereby join her sisters, who all have children. She also senses that she is ready for sex with a man. As a result she offers to bear a child in Rachel's name. She sees having children as a way to find satisfaction as a woman and to empower herself by joining a community of mothers.


But then she gave off bearing and he began to hit her and call her names.

Dinah, Part 1, Chapter 3

When Ruti stops bearing children, her husband Laban beats her. In the patriarchal system men often treat women as less than human. When a woman stops fulfilling her function, she is often seen as worthless.


Midwives do not fear life.

Dinah, Part 2, Chapter 4

Dinah has just listened to her friend Tabea express her fear about bearing children. Dinah has also seen women suffer during childbirth. However, she sees herself as a midwife—a person who understands women's bodies and the process of giving birth. Because she has this she can face childbirth with courage, despite the dangers.


In the red tent ... women give thanks ... that life comes from between our legs.

Leah, Part 2, Chapter 5

Leah tells Dinah that their ability to bear life is sacred. Their menstrual blood is also sacred because it is integral to their life-bearing process. As a result women give thanks for the gift of bearing children. The red tent is the place where women can acknowledge, share, and celebrate this truth.


I could only be what I was. And I was a woman.

Dinah, Part 2, Chapter 6

Dinah has just had her first menstrual period, marking her entrance into a new stage of life, womanhood. She thinks for a moment of keeping this change a secret, but she soon realizes doing this would be futile. Becoming a woman is just a fact of life.


He took them all to an unknown place and shattered them ... with a rock.

Dinah, Part 2, Chapter 6

Jacob shatters the teraphim. Previously Jacob had tolerated the worship of gods and goddesses. However, he now believes that everyone in his tribe should only worship El.


Fear not, the time is coming Fear not, your bones are strong

Dinah, Part 2, Chapter 7

Dinah, Inna, and Rachel sing this song to women in labor to encourage and calm them. The song shows the power of the female community to support other women.


My arms were coated with the thick, warm blood that ran from Shalem's throat.

Dinah, Part 2, Chapter 7

Dinah wakes up horrified to find herself covered with the blood of her husband. Blood here symbolizes the senseless waste of a life. This scene not only shows Shalem's death but also marks the death of Dinah's family connections.


I ... called forth the power of every god and every goddess ... to destroy ... them.

Dinah, Part 2, Chapter 8

Dinah curses her father and her brothers for the murder of Shalem and the massacre in Shechem. As Dinah takes aggressive action to fight abuse and to break away from her abusers, she finds power within herself.


The bloody dreams about Shalem were replaced by a joyful dream of his son.

Dinah, Part 3, Chapter 1

After Dinah recognizes that she is pregnant, she has dreams about her son. These dreams replace the nightmares she was having about Shalem's death. The novel continually shows life and death as inseparable parts of the human condition.


Do you know the face of death?

Werenro, Part 3, Chapter 2

After Werenro says this, she shows Dinah her hideously scarred face. Years ago Werenro had been raped and savagely beaten. Werenro's scarred face shows what can happen when men abuse their power over women.


My answer came out of me with the assurance of the great mother herself.

Dinah, Part 3, Chapter 3

Dinah speaks confidently to a woman who is pregnant but has suffered through many miscarriages. Dinah tells her she will bear a healthy son. Dinah's instinct proves to be correct. This example shows Dinah's connection to female divinity.


Menna prepared a small banquet for me and Benia. My husband's workmen sang songs.

Dinah, Part 3, Chapter 3

This passage describes Dinah's and Benia's wedding banquet. It is a modest affair but very meaningful to each of them. Also the passage emphasizes the importance of marking a new stage of life, in this case marriage, within the community.


Returning home was like being reborn.

Dinah, Part 3, Chapter 5

Dinah has just gone through a difficult experience, in which she became deathly ill, met her brother Joseph for the first time in 20 years, and realized her son knows the truth about the death of his father. Although painful this experience leads to a rebirth for Dinah. Soon she is able to confide in Meryt and Benia about her tragic story.


Gera had given me peace. The story of Dinah was too terrible to be forgotten.

Dinah, Part 3, Chapter 5

Dinah learns from Gera that her story has not been forgotten in her family. Although Dinah knows she will never return to her family, she senses a peace about knowing that her tragic story will be kept alive.

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