Summary and Analysis Chapter 9
Rosh assigns Daniel his first “job” alone. It is a test for Daniel to prove his usefulness to the rebel leader. Daniel is to attack an old Jewish traveler who is known to carry gold with him. Although Daniel tries to comfort himself with the moral relativism taught by Rosh, the reality of the deed is unpleasant. The man is elderly but puts up an unexpectedly strong resistance. Daniel is forced to strike him to make the man turn loose his grip on the bag full of money. The old man lies in a heap, wounded and looking helpless and forlorn in the road. Moved by pity, Daniel drags the old man out of the road and into the comforting shadow of a rock. He also returns one of the man’s two weapons so that he may defend himself on his dangerous trek.
Daniel returns the money to Rosh but is ashamed of his actions. Rosh is none too pleased that Daniel has allowed his victim to live. He accuses Daniel of weakness and of having a “soft streak.” Though Daniel argues that it is Roman blood they are after, not Jewish blood, he is aware that his softness is problematic for someone who wishes to be in service to Rosh. Even while Daniel tries to work the weakness out of his character, it begins to occur to him that there may be flaws in Rosh’s arguments.
This is a brief chapter but an important one. Daniel’s empathy is growing, and he begins to challenge the tenets of the rebel leader Rosh. Even the descriptions of Rosh start to change and he becomes more devil-like. Rosh has a “horny palm,” for example, and Daniel now sees Rosh’s face as “weather-pitted.”
Even more glaringly apparent is Daniel’s awakening morality and identification with the pain of others. He cannot kill the old Jewish traveler because he is reminded of the frailty of his own grandfather. He starts to see that there is more tethering him to life than simply the cause. In one beautiful description, Speare writes, “Rosh did not know about the other things that bound him like cobwebs when he woke in the night. Leah. His grandmother.”
Furthermore, Daniel begins consciously comparing the way Jesus views mankind versus the way Rosh does. Rosh sees another human being as “a thing to be used,” whereas “Jesus saw only a child of God.” Daniel begins to open his heart to the promises of Jesus.