What role do women play in The Bronze Bow?
Although in the era presented, women were considered inferior to men, the text shows that this is simply prejudice; Thacia, for example, is equally competant and in some ways much smarter than the men in her life. While the book focuses on Daniel and his growth from hate-inspired childhood to love-driven maturity, he and the other characters are more influenced by the women in their lives than they realize. Thacia is a living representative of the teachings of Jesus; she knows that violence is not an answer, and that one must change hearts instead of killing or harming. She directly affects Daniel, causing him to question his own ideals and realize that his hate is hurting all the people about whom he cares.
"All this--" she exclaimed, the sweep of her arm including the deepening blue of the sky, the shining lake in the distance, the snow-covered mountain far to the north. "So much! You must look at it all, Daniel, not just at the unhappy things."
(Speare, The Bronze Bow, Google Books)
This scene focuses on how Daniel's motivations are entirely one-dimensional; he can't see past his hate and the "unhappy things" in his life, and so it consumes him. When he understands Thacia and Jesus, he comes to the epiphany that there is love to balance the hate, and love can be even more powerful. Without Thacia, he would never have come to this conclusion.
Interestingly enough, the role of women in The Bronze Bow can be understood by contrasting their role to that of the men within the story. The female author, Elizabeth Speare, uses the role of the male to be played out as a fighter who is physically strong, full of pride, and protective. She creates Daniel, the protagonist, as a strong-willed and filled with anger young man who wants revenge. This is due to the death of his parents by the Roman soldiers. Rosh and Joel have the similar characteristics, even though Rosh is mentally directed differently than Joel. Simon, who may have a different disposition of all the male characters, still exhibits the concept of fighting for what is right and being physically strong.
However, it is the role of the women in this story to be played out as a submissive character who is physically weak, kind, and loving. Daniel's grandmother cares for Leah; Thace cares for Daniel when he is hurt; and the physically and mentally weak Leah, loves her brother and Marcus, a Roman soldier. The irony of the woman's role is that although they are physically weak and submissive, they demonstrate the true inner strength of love and forgiveness that the male counterpart lacks with in the story. The female role is necessary to allow the plot to transpose the protagonist into a renewed character. It is through the contrasting sex roles that the author demonstrates the tremendous strength of both, hate and love.