Study Guide

The Red Tent Blood

By Anita Diamant


Um, yeah, folks—The Red Tent is all about women bleeding. As, you know, they do.

Blood for the women in this book can have a few different meanings. Rachel, for one, thinks of it as a color of life, one she'll deliberately wear to appease the gods: "She wore only red and yellow—the colors of life's blood and the talisman for healthy menstruation" (1.2.111).

But then there's the blood of others, like the blood Dinah finds herself covered in after her husband has been murdered next to her: "I woke up clutching my neck, drowning in blood, screaming for Shalem, for help, for my mother, in a nightmare that would visit me again and again" (3.1.14).

Okay, so here, blood isn't too great. Whereas blood means health and life for Rachel, blood means death for Dinah, at least in this instance. And either way, we're dealing with blood as a metaphor.

Speaking of which, we'll give you one more metaphor: blood as a symbol for guilt. As Re-mose says to Joseph, for example, "I see the blood of my father on your hands" (3.4.94).

Though there isn't any actual blood on Joseph's hands, Re-mose is referring to Joseph's guilt. Because he didn't stop his brothers from murdering Shalem, Joseph therefore has the blood of Shalem on his hands forever.