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Literature: The Red Tent
The Red Tent is a novel written by Anita Diamant, which expands on the story of Dinah in the Book of Genesis. The original Bible story is about a young girl who was raped by a prince, and her brothers killed every man in the prince's city-state for it. Diamant's novel expands on the story, and tells it from Dinah's perspective. Her encounter with the prince, for example, is not a rape in Diamant's novel; it was loving and consensual. The story narrates Dinah's life, such as spending time with the women of her family in a red tent designated for their "time of the month."

Tropes associated with The Red Tent include:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Possibly Zilpah (though she could also be asexual)
  • Ancient Egypt: Dinah starts a new life there with her mother-in-law and a servant after her husband is killed.
  • The Alcoholic: Laban
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Invoked Trope. These are Biblical characters, but forget what you were taught about them in Sunday school.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: At least Rachel thinks so
  • The Beautiful Elite: Rachel.
  • Belly Dancer: When Dinah comes of age, the women celebrate in the Red Tent. In particular, Ahavah (one of her sisters-in-law) is described as dancing with her pregnant belly.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Laban has a habit of "bothering the sheep."
  • Bible Times
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: After the destruction of the Shechemites, Jacob's family becomes this. Not that it was much better before.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dinah dies peacefully in her old age, surrounded and mourned by her new family, although what's left of her old family barely acknowledges that she ever existed.
  • Break the Cutie
  • Bride Price: Jacob demands an outrageous bride price for his only daughter (which Prince Shalem is both willing and able to pay), which sets into motion the unfortunate turn of events that takes place next.
  • Broken Bird: Rebecca's reason for being so emotionally distant and surrounding herself by white-clad veiled servants all named "Deborah" is The loss of her nursemaid, Deborah
  • But Not Too Black: Bilhah
  • But Not Too Foreign: Dinah takes on an Egyptianized version of her name, Den-ner, when she becomes a respected midwife there.
  • Calling the Old Man Out
  • Character Development: Rachel starts off as a real diva, but as she finds her purpose (midwifery), she becomes more mature.
  • Clean Pretty Childbirth: Very much averted.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Rachel
  • Closer to Earth
  • Coming of Age
  • Covert Pervert: Dinah takes interest in listening to her older brother and his wife at night.
    • Also, her otherwise very respectable mother Leah makes lots of dirty jokes in the company of the other women in the Red Tent.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms
  • Death by Childbirth
  • Defiled Forever: As evidenced by her brothers' nasty name-calling, Dinah is regarded as this in their eyes for her sexual relationship with Prince Shalem.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The death of Prince Shalem
    • Also, the destruction of the Teraphim by Jacob
  • Different In Private: The women act differently in the privacy of the Red Tent than they otherwise do. They are more outgoing, and they serve the goddesses of their homeland (rather than the God of Jacob)
  • Does Not Like Men: Zilpah
  • Domestic Abuse: Laban treats Ruti so horribly that she has an abortion so that she won't give him another child
    • Also, Bilhah is badly beaten by Jacob after he caught her sleeping with Reuben.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come
  • Driven to Madness: This happens to Zilpah when Jacob destroys the Teraphim. She becomes physically ill as well, and dies as a result.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ruti slits her wrists after years of suffering under Laban Also one of Simon's sons when he learns that his father won his mother by murdering every man in Shechem.
  • The Empath: Bilhah
  • Face-Heel Turn: Jacob starts off as a genuinely nice, caring person, but as he gains more and more wealth and status, it kind of goes to his head.
  • Fair Folk: This is what Zilpah hopes she's carrying: a daughter (perhaps some kind of demi-goddess) who will come out fully-formed and magical. She ends up having twin boys instead, though it almost kills her.
  • Fanfiction: It's Diamant's take on a Bibical story, portrayed as "the other side of the story")
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Dinah has just met Prince Shalem, and shortly afterward, they are a married couple.
  • Gag Penis: Zilpah tells Rachel that Jacob has one of these, to make her afraid to go to the marriage bed so Leah can go instead.
  • Generation Xerox: After Bilhah is flogged for sleeping with Reuben, she runs away (and is thought to have committed suicide), just like her own Missing Mom.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Ruti induces a miscarriage so as not to give her husband another child (that he'll probably just abuse) and the other women understand her choice.
  • Hartman Hips: Leah
  • Hollywood Homely: Leah (described in the Bible as being rather plain compared to Rachel) is considered this because one of her eyes is green and one is blue, something she feels very self-conscious about. Only because people used to tease her about it, and she only displays signs of self-consciousness around men. invoked
    • Also, years of bearing children and nursing take a toll on her.
  • I Have No Granddaughter: Rebecca not only kicks her daughter-in-law out for not performing the Ritual of Opening for Tabea, but sends Tabea off with her, even though it wasn't Tabea's fault.
  • Ill Girl: Adah, in her old age
  • Insatiable Newlyweds
  • Intergenerational Friendship
  • Jerk Ass: Laban, but also Simon and Levi
  • Karma Houdini: Dinah's brothers. They get a What the Hell, Hero?, and in The Bible get their inheritance divided, but that's barely a slap on the wrist for destroying a whole village simply because they were worried for their status when their sister got involved with a prince.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Simon and Levi
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Leah conceives very easily, but Rachel does not, despite trying every trick Inna has up her sleeves.
  • Lolicon: Well, we would call it lolicon today. Inna helps a (married) girl through a difficult birth, she doesn't make it, and Inna bitterly comments later that the girl was too young to go through that.
    • Later, Dinah helps out with a similar situation, and lashes out at the girl's husband for marrying her and impregnating her so early in life.
  • Lost Her In A Game Of Chance: Laban gambles away Ruti. Leah and Jacob work together to rescue her, though.
  • Love at First Sight
  • Love Interest: Prince Shalem
  • Love Triangle: Between Jacob, Leah, and Rachel
  • Mama Bear: Adah
  • The Medic: Inna. Later, Dinah becomes this as she becomes a respected midwife along with her friend Meryt.
  • Mercy Killing: Leah begs for poison, rather than live with her unexplained paralysis, and her servant girls oblige.
  • Miko: Zilpah has assumed this role in her family, in a way.
  • The Mourning After: Inverted at the end
  • The Murder After: Subverted, as Dinah is not the suspect; she at first doesn't know who killed Shalem, but it's revealed that it was her brothers.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jacob, although (in all fairness) he did not directly orchestrate the events surrounding the destruction of the Shechemites. He only requested an outrageous bride price, after his favorite son Joseph suggested having the men circumcised when Simon complained about how "that uncircumcised dog" was lying with Dinah. The rest was all his sons' doing, which he does call them out for.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dinah's brothers believe they are avenging a rape and saving her, and that's not the case in the novel.
    • Even before that, when Leah and Jacob work together to rescue Ruti from being taken away when her husband lost her in a bet. Sure, she gets to stay with her family, but her husband starts treating her even worse than he did before.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted; menstruation brings the women into the red tent, and brings them together. They regard it as a gift from the goddess Innana, that allows periodic renewal.
  • No Pregger Sex: Although this is the customary rule, it was averted during Rachel's pregnancy with Joseph.
  • Not So Different: Jacob and Esau
  • Parental Abandonment: Bilhah's biological mother ran away from Laban, leaving Bilhah behind.
  • Parental Incest: Laban molested his daughters (but stopped after his wife punished him severely for it)
  • Parents as People: Jacob focuses more on his 12 sons than on his daughter, and Leah sometimes loses her patience with Dinah
  • Poisonous Friend: Jacob becomes corrupt and greedy after he starts listening to Simon and Levi instead of Leah and Reuben.
  • Polyamory: Just as in the Canon Bible story, but this time portrayed as orchestrated by the girls themselves (not Laban tricking Jacob into marrying his Christmas Cake Leah). Also, Jacob actually does love and care for his wives (well, in the beginning anyway), although Rachel is still his favorite.
  • The Power of Blood
  • The Power of Friendship
  • The Power of Love
  • Pregnant Badass: Dinah, by this time a seasoned midwife, has the presence of mind to perform an episiotomy on herself as she struggles through a difficult birth
  • Rape as Drama: Poor Werenro...
  • Rite of Passage: The Ritual of Opening
  • The Quiet One: Bilhah. Dinah is arguably this, particularly after she loses her husband.
  • Second Love: Benia
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Considering that the girl undergoing the ritual is masturbated with a small idol...
  • Screaming Birth
  • Shown Their Work: A lot of research on Ancient Mesopotamia went into this particular novel.
    • Subverted, however, because Inanna was not a Mother Goddess. Although sometimes invoked for protection during childbirth and for increasing fertility, she was associated with romantic/sexual love and with war, not family and motherhood. Yet here she is portrayed as being The Great Mother.
    • Also, no record of a Ritual of Opening is known from here. (And considering that Mesopotamian culture was very patriarchal, with women viewed as property to be "purchased" at marriage and their "honor" held as a reflection of their men's honor, it's not likely that such a ritual actually existed there. But It Makes Sense in Context for the purpose of the story.)
  • Shrinking Violet: Bilhah
  • Sibling Rivalry: Rachel and Leah (though not to the same degree as the Biblical story)
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Dinah is left pregnant with Shalem's son, but is forbidden by Shalem's grieving mother to even acknowledge the child as Shalem's.
  • Squick: The childbirth scenes are described in great detail. invoked
    • Also, the Ritual of Opening, wherein a girl's hymen is broken at her first period with a sacred object called a Teraphim, to offer the resultant blood to Innana.
  • Team Mom: Leah. Also Inna
  • This Is My Story: The story begins thusly: "We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust" and continues in this vein for some time.
  • Tsundere: Zilpah, Adah, Leah, Rachel
  • The Unfair Sex: Most men in the story (with a couple of exceptions, such as Prince Shalem and Benia) are portrayed as selfish, arrogant, greedy, power-hungry jerks.
  • The Unfavorite: Just as in Canon, Leah, although it is clear that she is still loved and cared for, and Jacob is still attracted to her. (Just not on the same level as Rachel.)
    • Also Bilhah, who tends to be somewhat of a loner from the very beginning
  • Vain Priestess Rebecca
  • Values Dissonance: The women of Padan-Aram, who do the Ritual of Opening and celebrate the New Moon together, contrasted to the women of Canaan, who "prove" their virginity to their in-laws with the bloody sheets of the wedding night and are not familiar with the New Moon rituals. invoked
  • Women's Mysteries

Red Mars TrilogyLiterature of the 1990sThe Regeneration Trilogy
The Red LionHistorical Fiction LiteratureRedeeming Love

alternative title(s): The Red Tent
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