Jacob’s decision to permit the murder of Shalem does not come as a surprise given the foreshadowing that has preceded the rape of Dinah. Though the events are shocking, in the chapters preceding the climax, Diamant has prepared readers to accept an erratic and irrational Jacob who is capable of cruelty while establishing the intensity of the love affair between Dinah and Shalem. Jacob’s dreams before meeting his brother, his unabashed favoritism toward his cruelest sons, and his sudden destruction of the teraphim make his bizarre behavior toward his only daughter believable. Diamant also foreshadows the intense romance between Dinah and Shalem. Dinah has recently reached womanhood and has begun to feel some sexual frustration, though she has not been able to identify her feelings. When she first meets the handsome Shalem, one of the only nonrelative males she’s ever come across, she feels an overwhelming attraction. The pair have an instant chemical reaction that recalls the stories of Leah’s and Rachel’s introductions to Jacob. Diamant creates an immediate bond between the pair, and her descriptions of their coupling are intimate and thrilling. The intensity of their love makes the night of bloodshed all the more cruel and painful.
Dinah narrates the stories of the deaths of her mothers, each of which conveys the four sisters’ grief at losing Dinah. After Dinah’s departure, the sisters come unglued with no legacy to hold them together, causing each of them to go her own way. The four women die alone, uncertain of their only daughter’s fate and lacking the knowledge that anyone will carry on their stories and traditions. Though circumstances turn ugly for Dinah’s father and brothers as well, her mothers brought Dinah up and thus must bear the sorrow of her exile. The extent of their grief is apparent in the gruesomeness of their deaths—by poison, death in childbirth, and attempted suicide. Their reason for living seems to be gone. By giving us closure on these characters at the end of the second part of the novel, Diamant prepares us for the third part of the book, which recounts Dinah’s solitary journey to Egypt.