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Dinah is the first daughter born to a polygamous family
that includes four mothers and eleven sons. As the long-awaited
daughter, she is spoiled, adored, and given special treatment and
attention from her multiple mothers. She enjoys her special status
and occasionally uses the jealousy between Leah and Rachel to her
advantage: for example, she sleeps in Rachel’s tent when Leah is
short with her.
Intelligent and lively, Dinah makes up games to play with
her many brothers. Although most of her brothers are older, she
often assumes the role of boss and chief storyteller. When the boys
grow older and move out to the fields with their father, Dinah contentedly spends
the majority of her time in the tents with the women, as she is
a keen and diligent observer who takes pleasure in noting their family
dynamics. As a narrator, she is careful to detail even the subtlest
actions of her family members but rarely takes such care in describing
herself. For the majority of Dinah’s life, she describes herself
as a passive observer, taking little responsibility for the events
in her life. When Re-nefer takes Dinah’s son as her own, Dinah is
practically unresponsive, grieving quietly but not defending herself.
This passiveness is a curious aspect of Dinah’s personality, as
her mother Leah had been a role model of the strong-minded and assertive woman.
Over the course of the novel, Dinah grows from being a
lively but passive girl attached to her mothers to one who an independent, active
agent in her own life. Although Dinah endures unspeakable grief
and loss, she rebuilds herself—eventually finding a new home, a
new husband, and a new family that fulfill her desire for a productive
and peaceful life.