Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

"We have been lost to each other for so long.
"My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.
"This is not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother. On those rare occasions where I was remembered, it was as a victim. Near the beginning of your holy book, there is a passage that seems to say I was raped and continues with the bloody tale of how my honor was avenged.
"It's a wonder that any mother called her daughter Dinah again."

Thus begins The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Dinah's version of the story of Leah and Rachel and their husband, Jacob, of the relationships between mothers, sisters, and daughters under the red tent -- the place women went during their menstrual cycle.

In preparation for our book discussion on The Red Tent in February, I'd like to walk through the biblical account of the marriages of Leah and Rachel and what happened in Shechem. I think it will be interesting to look at this account vs. what is given by Anita through Dinah in The Red Tent, and consider these stories as they relate to us today. What can we learn from the relationships between these women? What can we learn about God from this passage of Scripture? What liberties are taken with the biblical account of Dinah's story in The Red Tent, and are they effective, troubling, or simply a literary device?

Lots to think about with this book! I'm looking forward to walking through some of the Biblical accounts of Leah and Rachel's lives and the lives of their children, especially Dinah who appears only briefly in Genesis, with you over the next few weeks.

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