Study Guide

The Red Tent Love

By Anita Diamant


"For that night alone, I loved Jacob." (1.3.12)

It's Bilhah speaking here. She talks about how Jacob's tenderness toward her caused her to fall in love with him, even though it was just for that night.

I was ashamed of my heart's coldness, for I knew that Bilhah would have cried to see Ruti lying here, and that Leah would pour ashes on her own hair when she learned what had happened. (2.2.59)

Dinah finds it hard not to feel saddened by Ruti's death. It was hard for her to love Ruti, yet she feels shame for not feeling any emotions. We all have these kinds of moments—though we know we should cry, we just can't. It's normal.

I never learned to love my grandmother. I could not forget or forgive what she had done to Tabea. Nevertheless, the day came when I honored her. (2.5.87)

Notice how Dinah talks about how she never "learned" to love her grandmother. That's an odd thing to say—usually love isn't something learned; it's something felt.

All the while I scolded myself, thinking, Foolish! Childish! Foolish! (2.7.30)

Ah, that awkward moment when you try to speak to someone you have a crush on. 'Nuff said.

But Shalem did not appear, and I bit my lips to keep from weeping as we climbed the hills back to my father's tents. (2.7.36)

This might seem very childish—as Dinah has only said a few words to the dude—but remember, men and love were all Dinah were thinking about at that age. We can't blame her for feeling heartbroken so easily. Anyway, when was love ever logical? When were crushes ever logical?

"I will build you a tomb of surpassing beauty," Shalem said. "The world will never forget the name of Dinah, who judged my heart worthy." (2.7.75)

Now, that's a smooth talker right there. Shalem is exactly what Dinah wants in a man: he's gentle, romantic, and loyal.

I walked away from love as well, never again to see my reflection in my mothers' eyes. But I could not live among them. (2.8.14)

Despite her bond to her mothers and sisters, Dinah is shamed by her family and therefore feels the need to leave them behind. She really has two options: to escape and await an unknown future, or to live a life of solitude and loneliness. Not the best options, but she does have to choose.

My son loved Re-nefer, and when he saw her approach he would toddle to greet her with a hug. (3.1.102)

Dinah is a bit jealous of Re-mose's love for Re-nefer at first, but she warms up to it because of Re-nefer's own love for Re-mose. They were simply a happy family.

And yet, I did not fully understand my own heart, for this was nothing like what I felt when I first saw Shalem. (3.2.76)

Dinah's heart was already broken, so she feels her love for Benia simply couldn't be the same love as the kind she had for Shalem. Now, we're not saying she didn't love Benia; we're just saying it was a different kind of love. Or at least she experiences it that way. She's a different person now, after all, so it's no surprise she experience love differently at this point in her life.

He embraced me, and for a moment I regained the loving boy who had been my son. (3.4.20)

As Dinah grows older, her relationship to Re-mose unfortunately weakens, leaving the love between the two to weaken as well.