Rachel’s character undergoes a metamorphosis throughout the first several chapters of the novel—from a childish, spoiled beauty into a strong, talented healer. She has difficulty conceiving a child and thus must find fulfillment in other areas of her life. Through her practice as a midwife, Rachel develops a sense of her own power and an identity other than just being the beauty. Though she is not as lucky in childbearing as her sisters, she cultivates her own kind of power in the red tent. By serving mothers in birth, she finds her own humanity and tenderness. As a result of this fundamental change in her personality, coupled with the joy of Dinah’s birth, she opens herself up to Jacob again. Fully confident now in her status as a woman, her womb seems to strengthen, and she is able to carry the baby to term. Dinah’s birth also contributes to the softening of her relationship with Leah. Without the constant jealousy, Rachel becomes more relaxed and accepting. Despite her experience in attending births, her own labor is difficult and she nearly dies, but her will to give Jacob a son and finally hold her own child in her arms prevails. The last vestiges of the old Rachel emerge when she resents handing her son to her fertile sister to breastfeed when her own breasts cannot feed him, but she at last accepts the situation.
Dinah’s troubled entrance into the world foreshadows her difficult life. After countless miscarried female babies among the sisters, Leah conceives yet another girl. The birth of so many sons has left Leah tired and she cannot bear the thought of another pregnancy and childbirth. Dinah’s destiny as the daughter of the wives of Jacob becomes clear when Rachel, an unlikely candidate, encourages Leah to keep the baby. After years of divided loyalties and emotions, the two sisters find something to rejoice about together and they dream of one girl who will live on as the legacy of the four sisters. Dinah is anxiously dreamed of for months, then is born into four pairs of loving hands. Dinah’s dramatic welcome to the world suits a character that is later the catalyst for the slaughter of a city.