Study Guide

Laban in The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant


Angry Dad

"The backside of a donkey has more merit than Laban," she said. "My father is a snake. He is the putrefied offal of a snake." (2.1.51)

Leah pretty much hits the nail on the head with this description of Laban: he's a total snake, and he's probably the easiest character to despise in this book. Laban is the father of Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah—and he shows none of them any kind of love or respect. He even used to grope his children until his wife beat the snot out of him for it.

Dinah has pretty similar ideas about her ol' granddad: "He treated his daughters like slaves, and cuffed their sons. He profited from the labor of their looms without a word of thanks. He leered at the bondswomen and took their beer as bribe against his lust" (1.2.62).

Leech, snake, scammer—looks like Laban is the embodiment of all that was wrong with Bronze Age Mesopotamian society.