The Red Tent

by: Anita Diamant

Important Quotations Explained

1. It is terrible how much has been forgotten, which is why, I suppose, remembering seems a holy thing.

This quote is from the prologue, and it occurs after Dinah recounts how her life has been distilled down to a few lines in the Bible over time. She laments that the “chain connecting mother to daughter was broken,” naming this chain as the reason that her true story, which is a love story, fell by the wayside. At the time when Dinah lived, only men’s histories were committed to paper, and women’s stories were transmitted orally from mother to daughter across generations. Her story would have been important only to her daughters. Since she did not have daughters, Dinah’s story has faded from memory but for a few gruesome details. Dinah comments indirectly on the mistaken descriptions of her story and her mothers’ stories in the Bible, proclaiming that her telling will truthfully amend the record. As a result, the memory of the women of her family will no longer be distorted and half-forgotten.

Dinah introduces herself as both the narrator and the protagonist of the novel in the prologue. By telling her story in the form of “remembering,” as if from the distant past, she creates valuable psychological distance between herself as the narrator and her traumatic personal history. Dinah’s detached narration gives the story the feeling of a legend—a story that should be heard, remembered, and then recounted over and over again through generations. In the prologue, Dinah also alludes to a promise she made to her mothers to keep their stories alive. She says that they held her face between their hands and made her swear to remember their secrets and stories. In telling her story, Dinah fulfills an oath to her mothers to remember and honor them.