The Bronze Bow is a work of young adult historical fiction, told in third-person limited narration. Historical fiction tells a story that includes real elements of history, giving new insight and information into a period or event while also creating fictional characters and narrative.
Daniel, the novel's protagonist, progresses through the classic stages of a bildungsroman.
When Daniel returns to his village for the first time in five years, he begins to see the effects of what Rosh's men, and the Roman military, have been doing. Daniel's grandmother dies, and his sister, Leah, is so deeply traumatized that Daniel cannot leave her alone. These events form part of the loss that the protagonist in a bildungsroman goes through. Daniel is also suffering an ongoing loss at the hands of the Roman military, who are occupying Galilee. These losses combine to give new vigor to the vow Daniel made as a child to give his life avenging his father's death.
The next part of a bildungsroman is the journey: Daniel's journey is one from Rosh's mountain hideout to leading his own gang of boys in trying to overthrow the Romans. Daniel has a burning need for a leader figure, and he sees his fellow people as being leaderless: their land is occupied by Rome, and people are losing faith in the deliverance that they had been promised by scripture. This conflict can be seen in the first conversation between Joel and Malthace on the mountaintop: Joel believes that trained men will fight a virtuous war, but Malthace believes that there will eventually be a messiah who delivers Israel from the Roman occupation. The journey that Daniel embarks on is to follow Joel's vision: amassing an army to train for a rebellion.
The journey that Daniel ultimately takes is not the one he initially embarks upon, however. The conflict of the bildungsroman occurs as Daniel tries to ignite a revolution. After a disastrous ambush, Daniel realizes that he is not suited to be a leader. He loses even more faith in the rebellion when he sees that Rosh's actions are just as bad for his fellow countrymen as the Romans'. Daniel continues to look for a messiah who will lead the Galileans but finds that no one he turns to will begin the revolution. Daniel approaches Jesus of Nazareth and struggles with Jesus's request that Daniel give up what is "most precious to him": his "hate."
The final stage of the bildungsroman is the maturity that the protagonist demonstrates. Daniel's maturity is crystallized when he invites the Roman soldier into his home.
The journey that Daniel embarks on is not merely about a boy becoming a man: it is also the story of how he becomes a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. The way this journey is described in the narrative is not a linear process. The two characters of Jesus and Daniel are living in the same place and time, but their interactions are few. The narrative creates a web of associations between characters, which is similar to a network narrative, although only one character's inner thoughts are exposed. This is a tool of historical fiction that is used to show multiple responses to a single event. It also adds to the mood of the story, as the characters are all working toward a common goal, but in their own ways.
The novel engages with the question of historical authenticity by paying attention to the small, mundane details instead of focusing on major historical events. Food, and particularly bread, is described in order to provide an insight into daily life and how hunger affects relationships. When Joel and Malthace offer to share food with Daniel, he immediately suspects them of offering him charity, which shames him. In addition to demonstrating shame, the taste of the food and the handwashing ritual that precedes it give Daniel tactile reminders of home. When Daniel gives Samson food after removing his shackles, he creates a bond that...
(The entire section is 985 words.)