Study Guide

Shalem in The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant


Shalem's that dude Dinah falls in love with. You know, the dude who gets murdered in his sleep. But let's try not to remember him for his terrible death, but rather for who he was when he was alive. He's actually a nice guy who really cares for Dinah. In Genesis, we're told that he raped Dinah, but in this novel, that's just a story Dinah's nasty brothers make up about him.

In fact, Shalem is pretty chill overall. For example, when Jacob demands foreskin as Dinah's bride-price (an utterly ridiculous price), Shalem goes along with it:

"I agree to the demands," he said to Jacob's face. "Here and now, if you like. I will honor the custom of my wife's family, and I will order my slaves and their sons to follow me. I know my father speaks out of fear for me and in loyalty to his men, who would suffer. But for me, there is no question. I hear and obey." (2.7.134)

Okay, let's all just take a moment to respect this guy for a second.