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Leah is a determined, decisive, and capable woman. She
marries Jacob, despite his love for her sister, and revels in the
joy he finds in her arms. She’s taller than most men and more talented
than most women: she brews excellent beer and effortlessly produces
fine spinning. While Leah is probably the least self-centered character
in the novel, she is self-conscious about her mismatched eyes. She
takes care to hide them as much as possible and rewards those who
can look into them.
As a mother, Leah is formidable. Bearing eight healthy
children and breastfeeding many of her nephews barely distracts
her from her daily duties as the head of Jacob’s household. She
is surprisingly sexual, craving Jacob’s body and enjoying the pleasures
they find in each other. Leah proves herself to be a skilled herdsman,
noting the mating patterns of their flocks and helping her husband
to grow their meager beginnings into more prosperous holdings. She
even proves herself to be cunning at times, cleverly outwitting
her father by stitching herbs and spices into the women’s clothes
in order to smuggle them.
Yet even with all of her talents and triumphs as a mother,
Leah is a somewhat tragic figure. Her sister Rachel remains the
true love of Jacob’s life, and she loses her only daughter, Dinah,
through circumstances beyond her control. She dies pining for the
love and comfort of her only daughter.