What three ways was the bronze bow used?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The bronze bow is a motif that Elizabeth George Speare uses throughout the novel. Not only do the characters use the bow in three different ways, but Speare uses it as a symbol with at least three different meanings.

Daniel first considers the idea of the bow of bronze when Joel reads him scripture while he is recuperating in the passageway of their home. The three friends have made a vow to fight for God's victory, and Joel offers Daniel the use of a secret entrance to their home if he wants to get a message to Joel from Rosh. Joel suggests that Daniel could "mark some sign on the wall" to let them know he was there, and Thacia suggests the sign of the bronze bow.

Second, in chapter 12 when Daniel is forming his band of men within the village to assist Rosh, they determine they need some brand to show they are all part of the group and trustworthy. Rather than taking an outward brand, which would have violated the Law, Joel suggests they "carry the sign of the bow in our minds" and use it as "our password."

Third, in chapter 15, Daniel fashions a cloak pin in the shape of a bronze bow with the pin as its arrow. He decides to keep "his experiment" as a way "to remind him of his purpose."

Speare uses the bow as a symbol in various ways as the book progresses. First, it is a symbol of the bond of friendship between Daniel, Joel, and Thacia. Second, when Daniel thoughtfully fashions the little pin while working at his blacksmith shop, he "thought again of Jesus, and his hopes flared anew." That month, when he looked back on it later, turned out to be a month of "quietness and hope." Here Speare uses the bow as a symbol of hope, showing how Daniel is beginning to open his heart toward the pleasures of his own life and toward Jesus. Third, Speare uses the bow in the final chapter to drive home her theme that love, not hate, is the road to victory. When Jesus comes to Daniel's home to heal Leah, in the face of Jesus' love Daniel realizes that "only love could bend the bow of bronze." Here the bow symbolizes love and faith in Jesus as the answer to the pain of life.

Speare uses the bow in three concrete ways with her characters and in three symbolic ways to advance the themes of her novel.