Topics for Further Study

  • Speare’s The Bronze Bow is a novel of historical fiction, which means that the author takes real characters from history and puts words in their mouths and assumes their motivations. Is this fair?
  • Research other powerful women from the Bible. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following: Sarah, Rachel, Esther, Ruth, Deborah, and the Queen of Sheba. How did these women make contributions to society? Examine their political impact and ability to enact social change.
  • Is Speare’s depiction of indentured slavery accurately portrayed? What did a slave endure? How often did they live to see the terms of their bond end? Where does Speare portray this aspect of Jewish life well? Where does she fall short?
  • Define the term zealotry as used in the novel and now. What current figures might be considered “zealots”? For what causes do these zealots fight? Examine their social, political, and economic motivations both historically and in the present day. Consider whether Rosh or Simon meets the definition of a true zealot.
  • Compare and contrast the roles of the women in Speare’s novel and modern women in Israel. How have their roles changed? Has anything remained the same?

What Do I Read Next?

  • Calico Captive is Speare’s first novel, published in 1957. Set during the French Indian War in Charleston, New Hampshire, Calico Captive takes place prior to the American Revolution.
  • Probably her most famous work, Speare’s second novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, garnered her the coveted Newbery Medal for “Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children” in 1958. It is the story of sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler and her life in Connecticut Colony during the hysteria of the witch trials.
  • Not written until 1984, The Sign of the Beaver is Speare’s third Newbery winner. This novel returns to Speare’s American roots, with twelve-year-old Matt trying to survive on his own until his father returns to the family cabin in the Maine wilderness.
  • Elizabeth Jarvis McGraw is also a Newbery winner for a novel of historical fiction called The Golden Goblet. The story’s protagonist, a young Egyptian boy, attempts to reshape his own destiny while solving a murder.
  • For nonfiction works aimed at this age group, consider Daily Life at the Time of Jesus by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh. The author considers how much a shekel would buy and other common challenges of everyday life.
  • Another nonfiction work accessible to young adults is Schulyer Brown’s The Origins of Christianity: A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Brown recounts the life and death of Jesus as well as the origin of the movement that venerated him.


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Bronze Bow takes place 2,000 years ago in Palestine during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius and the time of Jesus Christ's...

(The entire section is 457 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Speare's prose in The Bronze Bow has the fluidity, grace, and clarity that mark her other award-winning novels. The impressively...

(The entire section is 314 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Given the turmoil in the Middle East today, The Bronze Bow's depiction of military oppression in ancient Palestine could spark a...

(The entire section is 228 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Why does Daniel not know from the start that Rosh is devious?

2. Were any of Daniel's crimes justifiable? Why might freeing...

(The entire section is 213 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. How accurate is the portrayal of everyday life for Daniel's era and place in The Bronze Bow? You may need to narrow this down and...

(The entire section is 357 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

All of Speare's other novels feature graceful prose and her gift for vivid descriptions. Like The Bronze Bow, The Witch of...

(The entire section is 89 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Commire, Anne, ed. Something about the Author. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Research, 1973. Summarizes her career and includes comments by...

(The entire section is 184 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

Ballantine, W. G. 1891. Messianic prophecy. The Old and New Testament Student 12(5): 262-266.

Brewbaker, James M. 1984. So you think you know young adult literature. The English Journal 73(7): 58-59.

Byrne, Brendan. 2001. Interpreting Romans theologically in a post-“new perspective” perspective. The Harvard Theological Review 94(3): 227-241.

Hajjar, Lisa. 1998. Between a rock and a hard place: Arab women, liberal feminism and the Israeli state. Middle East Report 207(Summer): 27.

Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Kellner, Menachem. 1986. Messianic postures in Israel today. Modern Judaism 6(2): 197-209.

Lahav, Pnina. 1974. The status of women in Israel: Myth and reality. The American Journal of Comparative Law 22(1): 107-129.

Schodde, George H. 1897. Israel’s place in universal history. The Biblical World 10(4): 272-276.

Shachter, Jaqueline. 1975. Meet the author on video tape. The Elementary School Journal 75(7): 401-407.

Sharoni, Simona. 1998. The myth of gender equality and the limits of women’s political dissent in Israel. Middle East Report 207(Summer): 24-28.

Speare, Elizabeth George. 1957. Calico captive. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Speare, Elizabeth George. 1958. The witch of blackbird pond. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Speare, Elizabeth George. 1961. The bronze bow. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Thuente, Mary Helen. 1985. Beyond historical fiction: Speare’s “The witch of blackbird pond”. The English Journal 74(6): 50-55.