Introduction to The Bronze Bow

Originally published in 1961, and awarded the Newbery Medal the following year, Elizabeth George Speare’s novel The Bronze Bow takes place in Galilee, Israel, during the time of Jesus. Eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin, the novel's protagonist, has endured a life of unbelievable hardship. At the age of eight, Daniel witnessed his father and uncle’s crucifixion by Roman soldiers, and his mother died shortly thereafter. Daniel’s younger sister, Leah, is left traumatized by their parents' deaths. Unable to support the children, Daniel's grandmother is forced to sell Daniel to the town’s blacksmith.

Daniel works for the blacksmith for five years before fleeing to the hills above Galilee and becoming a member of a Jewish rebel group led by the zealot Rosh. Rosh despises the Romans and has made it his mission to drive them from Israel. Daniel, too, is consumed by hatred of the Romans. He is determined to kill as many as he can in order to avenge his parents’ deaths and the suffering the Roman occupation has brought to the Jewish people.

The longer Daniel spends with Rosh, the more his hatred grows. In time, however, he begins to hear stories of Jesus, a man who has a different message—one of love and tolerance. Daniel faces a long battle before he can give up his vow of hatred, but gradually the words and actions of Jesus help Daniel understand that only love has the strength to “bend the bow of bronze.”

A Brief Biography of Elizabeth George Speare

Elizabeth George Speare (1908–1994) is on the list of America’s one hundred most popular children’s authors, and she has won many awards, including two Newbery Medals, the most prestigious prize given to children’s literature. Speare's stellar career as a writer, however, almost didn’t happen. Though she wrote a good deal as a child, she stopped for many years and focused her energy and attention on her family. Speare didn’t start writing commercially until she was in her forties and her children were in their early teens. Like her most famous work, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, many of her stories are set in New England and focus on young people who are at a critical turning point in their lives.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Bronze Bow

The Bronze Bow

After his father is unjustly crucified by Roman authorities, the eight-year-old Daniel makes a solemn vow to fight the Romans even if it means his own death. Despite his youth, the boy is submerged...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2021, 11:57 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Daniel bar Jamin, the protagonist of The Bronze Bow, is "unmistakably a Galilean," and like other Galileans, he refuses to recognize that Palestine has been conquered by the Romans. The Emperor...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2021, 6:11 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Joel is captured while acting as a spy in the village. He had been posing as a fish monger, selling fish to the kitchen slaves of the wealthy and gathering intelligence by listening to their...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2021, 12:18 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

There are a few character deaths in The Bronze Bow. The execution of Daniel's father and uncle by the Romans is the event which establishes Daniel's vengeful motivations. His mother dies not long...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2021, 11:31 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

The climax is the point of highest dramatic tension in a narrative. It can occur when the main character is at their lowest point or when they must make a choice that changes everything. In The...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2021, 11:28 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

On the Sabbath day, Simon takes Daniel to the synagogue to see Jesus of Nazareth preaching to the assembly. Initially, Daniel has no desire to visit the synagogue, as he has not been to one in half...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2021, 11:42 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

The resolution of a story follows the excitement of the climax. The climax, the highest point of dramatic tension, usually presents a choice or final test for the protagonist. In The Bronze Bow,...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2021, 11:43 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Leah is Daniel's sister. When she was five, she witnessed her father and uncle be crucified by the Romans for failure to pay taxes. This event traumatized her. She screams in the night and becomes...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2021, 11:58 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Daniel is a young man consumed by vengeance. His father and uncle are crucified by the Romans. His mother dies shortly afterward, leaving both Daniel and his sister, Leah, orphaned. Their...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2021, 11:23 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Much to Daniel's displeasure, Leah has been visiting with a Roman soldier when he is not home. This Roman soldier is Marcus, a handsome young German from conquered territory only serving in the...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2021, 11:27 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

In Elizabeth George Speare's The Bronze Bow, Joel must learn a hard lesson about faith and betrayal. Joel has long been attracted to Rosh and his band of Zealots, hoping that they will one day...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2021, 3:10 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Daniel is consumed by hatred for the Roman occupiers of his land. They killed his father and his uncle, which caused his mother's death a few weeks later. The trauma of all this loss affects his...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2021, 11:36 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

In Elizabeth George Speare's The Bronze Bow, Simon comes to see Daniel to tell him that his former master has died and that Daniel can return to his home village. Several years before, Daniel was...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2021, 4:33 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

At first, Daniel rejects the idea of carrying the Roman soldier's heavy pack, his anger and hate taking over. The Roman soldier, who has a legal right to demand this duty, knocks Daniel down for...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2021, 11:31 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

In chapter 18, Thacia comes to Daniel's blacksmith shop with the news that Joel was arrested the day before by the centurions. This is a blow to Daniel, who loves the loyal, warm, and forthright...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2021, 12:19 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Daniel's disillusionment and break with Rosh have been slowly building as Daniel becomes aware of Rosh's selfishness and coldness. Rosh eats mutton, for example, while his men go hungry, and he...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2021, 11:26 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Daniel and Leah, brother and sister, are both deeply traumatized, as one might expect, by seeing the Romans crucify their father as a rebel, as well by the execution of their uncle and the...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2021, 1:22 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Daniel's friend Nathan is a person of character. Like Daniel, he makes a mistake in thinking Rosh is the leader who can rid Palestine of the Romans, but unlike Rosh, Nathan's heart is in the right...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2021, 12:05 pm (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

Rosh is consistently presented as a foil to Jesus. Both men want to usher in a new kingdom, but they have entirely different ideas of how this should be done and what it means. Rosh is selfish and...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2021, 11:39 am (UTC)

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The Bronze Bow

The main conflict in the book is Daniel's internal struggle between the destructive hatred he feels for the Roman occupiers of his land and the love of Jesus, which is stronger than that hate....

Latest answer posted November 28, 2021, 11:57 am (UTC)

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Summary