First, now that I have finished some, thoughts on The Red Tent:
Anita Diamant treats each character fairly and compassionately. The only real villain so far, up to the second part has been Laban. The weaving the ties and bindings of the family, the fights and feuds of Leah and Rachel, are very well written and executed, so that I very much cared when Leah finally gave birth to Joseph. Of all the tragedies I feel Ruti is the greatest, and most deserving of sympathy. I know I should also speak of Jacob. I feel he is fairly made, and his faults are usually no more than because of his day’s traditions. He loves his sons, and took great joy in their birth and especially in Jacob’s. It was very telling, as it was written, that the author had Jacob lay with Rachel every night but had him contemplate sacrificing to another god.
As a modern guy I noted that he was really missing an integral part of birth by not being in the tent itself. That this is done now is a good amount of progress. Beyond that the book is a great celebration of womanhood, it highs and lows, and what the sisters do for each other that show they are much more than a male at the time will give them credit for, such as when Rachel was finally able to menstruate for the first time. I will be interesting to comparatively read the account in Genesis when I am done, to find how bare the Bible’s account will seem, without Diamant’s meaty imagination. With each page I wonder how much research was done by Diamant, not only as to the detail of the traditions (very deep), but the nature of the historical characters. This is not one of those books you merely set aside without further investigation after the last page.
I also noticed your note at the end that says “Will, Now that you have finished this book I hope…” and that is it. What could the girl Marley mean? Something profound, no doubt. And I stand here and wonder, all the same, what you were getting at. If I may guess, you were hoping I would have a better appreciation not only for the pains of child-birth and rearing, but also see clearly the reality of women and femininity as a whole.
A little news as far as my Request to leave the service a few months early for school: it is about to go to the Executive Officer and Captain, and I had to rewrite part of it tonight, merely for semantics sake. Whatever they want, I’ll do it. The major hurdle now passed over is that Chief Waverley has finally, perhaps very grudgingly approved. He marked a very important “yes” on the chit, and written a letter stating that the division will not be undermanned in my absence, and can support the gap in manning, as well as stating that Cliff has already been approved for the same request. My division officer complimented the case I have built, calling it “ironclad.”
It makes me happy for the further optimism it gives, but conflicts and uncertainty remains. I wish I could be entirely satisfied and happy with this, but even if/when it approved I cannot say I will be.