Topics for Further Study
- Speare’s The Bronze Bow is a novel of historical fiction, which means that the author takes real characters from history and puts words in their mouths and assumes their motivations. Is this fair?
- Research other powerful women from the Bible. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following: Sarah, Rachel, Esther, Ruth, Deborah, and the Queen of Sheba. How did these women make contributions to society? Examine their political impact and ability to enact social change.
- Is Speare’s depiction of indentured slavery accurately portrayed? What did a slave endure? How often did they live to see the terms of their bond end? Where does Speare portray this aspect of Jewish life well? Where does she fall short?
- Define the term zealotry as used in the novel and now. What current figures might be considered “zealots”? For what causes do these zealots fight? Examine their social, political, and economic motivations both historically and in the present day. Consider whether Rosh or Simon meets the definition of a true zealot.
- Compare and contrast the roles of the women in Speare’s novel and modern women in Israel. How have their roles changed? Has anything remained the same?
What Do I Read Next?
- Calico Captive is Speare’s first novel, published in 1957. Set during the French Indian War in Charleston, New Hampshire, Calico Captive takes place prior to the American Revolution.
- Probably her most famous work, Speare’s second novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, garnered her the coveted Newbery Medal for “Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children” in 1958. It is the story of sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler and her life in Connecticut Colony during the hysteria of the witch trials.
- Not written until 1984, The Sign of the Beaver is Speare’s third Newbery winner. This novel returns to Speare’s American roots, with twelve-year-old Matt trying to survive on his own until his father returns to the family cabin in the Maine wilderness.
- Elizabeth Jarvis McGraw is also a Newbery winner for a novel of historical fiction called The Golden Goblet. The story’s protagonist, a young Egyptian boy, attempts to reshape his own destiny while solving a murder.
- For nonfiction works aimed at this age group, consider Daily Life at the Time of Jesus by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh. The author considers how much a shekel would buy and other common challenges of everyday life.
- Another nonfiction work accessible to young adults is Schulyer Brown’s The Origins of Christianity: A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Brown recounts the life and death of Jesus as well as the origin of the movement that venerated him.
Questions and Answers: Chapters 1-5
1. Who is Rosh, and what is his “cause”?
2. For what are the Jews waiting?
3. How does Jesus differ from Rosh?
4. Why does Rabbi Hezron defend the Roman occupiers?
1. Rosh is the leader of the rebels who live in the hills above Galilee. Rosh claims that he and his band will rid Israel of the Romans. They will do so, he says, by intimidating, threatening, and often murdering any Roman who comes within striking distance. He believes in rule by fear, and this extends to those who live and work for him.
2. The Jews are waiting for the promised Messiah who will finally free them and rid Israel of Roman...
(The entire section is 321 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapters 6-10
1. Where do Joel and Malthace hide Daniel and for what purpose?
2. What is the significance of the biblical passage that begins chapter 7?
3. Why does Malthace argue that Rosh is not the leader the Jews have been expecting?
4. What is Daniel’s personal vendetta against the Romans?
5. How does Malthace convince Joel and Daniel to let her take the vow to fight for freedom?
6. According to Rosh, what is Daniel’s “fatal flaw”?
1. The twins hide Daniel in a small storage room that is accessible both inside and outside the house via a secret passageway. They do so to nurse him back to health...
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapters 11-15
1. What does Daniel mean when he says that “the weakest one of them had defeated him”?
2. What is the only valuable object that Leah possessed? How is it symbolic?
3. How does Speare humanize the Roman soldier who comes to Daniel’s smithy?
4. Why do the village boys beat up Nathan?
5. What does Daniel give to Leah, and how does it affect her?
6. Why is the Good Samaritan parable important?
1. Leah, the weakest person Daniel knows, has compelled Daniel to leave his life on the mountain, where he felt free and enjoyed a life of action. By accepting responsibility of his sister, he has chosen a...
(The entire section is 333 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapters 16-21
1. What job does Rosh give Joel to do?
2. Why have the villagers become so disenchanted with Rosh?
3. What do the boys find and what, per Daniel’s instructions, do they do with it?
4. What finally causes Daniel to break from Rosh?
5. Who rescues Daniel, Joel, and the boys?
6. How does Daniel convince Joel to stay in school?
1. Rosh wants Joel to find out which rich people will be leaving their homes unguarded in order to attend a feast. He offers no help or advice to Daniel or Joel as to how to go about this task. With the help of Thacia, they decide on a plan. She will disguise herself as a boy...
(The entire section is 555 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapters 22-24
1. What does Jesus ask in order for Daniel to follow him?
2. What startling news does Leah deliver to Daniel, and how does he react?
3. How does Simon define faith?
4. How does Daniel finally decide to follow Jesus?
5. How does Daniel demonstrate that he has truly accepted Jesus’ message of acceptance?
1. Jesus commands that Daniel relinquish his hatred. It is not enough for him to give up all his earthly possessions; in fact, those are of little consequence to Jesus. Instead, Daniel must replace his hate and intolerance with love and acceptance.
2. Leah tells her brother that the Roman soldier,...
(The entire section is 330 words.)
Topics for Discussion
Ideas for Reports and Papers
For Further Reference
Bibliography and Further Reading
Ballantine, W. G. 1891. Messianic prophecy. The Old and New Testament Student 12(5): 262-266.
Brewbaker, James M. 1984. So you think you know young adult literature. The English Journal 73(7): 58-59.
Byrne, Brendan. 2001. Interpreting Romans theologically in a post-“new perspective” perspective. The Harvard Theological Review 94(3): 227-241.
Hajjar, Lisa. 1998. Between a rock and a hard place: Arab women, liberal feminism and the Israeli state. Middle East Report 207(Summer): 27.
Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Kellner, Menachem. 1986. Messianic postures in Israel today. Modern Judaism...
(The entire section is 197 words.)