Suggested Essay Topics
Consider arguing that women are the true protagonists of the novel. Malthace, for example, proves herself to be an intelligent person who does not shirk her duties to her family, country, and friends. Malthace is the one who properly interprets David’s analogy of the “bronze bow.” She also makes mistakes but amends them as soon as possible. Furthermore, it is Malthace who exemplifies Jesus’ love when she cares for the injured Daniel. Thacia ministers to Leah, helping the young girl realize her own worth and beauty.
Leah is also an example of the power of the feminine. It is she who is able to keep her family knitted together. Her loom is symbolic of her role. Leah proves that what is traditionally dismissed as “women’s work” is indeed valuable. Baking, sewing, and even knowing the difference between a weed and a vegetable add to the perception of the worth of women in the home. When it comes to love, Leah is the one character who is able to reach beyond her society’s prejudices to love the perceived “wrong” person, the Roman solider Marcus.
An interesting approach to this novel would be to include an in-depth analysis of the importance of the Law to Jewish society in Jesus’ day. Jews had lived for thousands of years believing that strict adherence to the Law was God’s command. An observant Jew would try to follow the Law to the letter. It must have been quite unsettling to see Jesus attract so many followers when he actively preached that the Law was secondary to having a worthy heart—a heart that is willing to receive God’s blessings. Perhaps even more startling was his mandate that the kingdom of God be accessible to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Speare’s novel is rich in symbolic imagery. You might consider tracking the numerous instances of the occurrence of the number...
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