Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Bronze Bow

Title : The Bronze Bow
Author : Elizabeth George Speare
Publisher : HMCo
Age : Young Adult

In the times when incidents inspired by hate outnumber the ones driven by love and affection, when compassion seems to be running low in our hearts, when patience is looked down upon as a tool of meek and weak and when display of aggression seems to be the new and modern flavor, it is extremely essential to go back to the priceless teachings of the enlightened souls who graced the Earth with their divine presence. And what better time than around Christmas - the festival of light, which symbolizes happiness and merriment.

Daniel bar Jamin happens to witness the crucifixion of his father by Roman soldiers. Taking revenge by driving the Roman dominion out of the land of Israel becomes his only motto in life. Harboring deep hatred in his heart, he joins the band of an outlaw who resides in the hills outside the city limits. Forced by circumstances post his grandmother's death, he finds himself to be the only one who now needs to take care of his sister. But while living in the village he establishes a group of like minded guerrillas with sole mission of taking revenge. Fired by hatred, he fails to see and acknowledge tender feelings of his sister Leah, his friend Joel and Joel's sister Malthace.

There is one thing which empowers him and provides solace to his agitated nerves always and that is the Song of David

"God is my safe refuge,
And has made my way safe.
He made my feet like hind's feet,
And set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze."

and Malthace beautifully interprets the meaning as - When God strengthens us, we can do anything that seems impossible.

While he nurtured the hatred towards Romans passionately in his heart, teachings of Jesus of Nazareth had some other message to convey. Calm demeanor of Jesus always attracted Daniel but his words 'It is the hate that is the enemy, not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love', made Daniel's whole fabric of being shake. He always found hatred and feeling of vengeance so much closer to him that imagining his self devoid of these two was almost impossible for him. But after having experienced the pain of losing two of his dear ones with his own sword of hatred and after having pushed his sister to life threatening isolation again, he could finally understand the true meaning of David's words - 'He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze' - that perhaps only love could bend the bow of bronze.

"The only chains that matter are fear and hate because they chain our souls. If we do not hate anyone and do not fear anyone then we are free."

The scene here is set in Jerusalem at the time of Christ. Author beautifully conveys Jesus's message of peace amidst chaos, hatred, violence, pain and distress through the story of Daniel. It is indeed a moving and sensitive tale to emphasize that no matter how big and dear revenge and hatred appear to be, forgiveness and love pave the way for actual deliverance.

'The Bronze Bow' is the winner of the 1962 Newbery Medal


sandhya said...

Seems like an interesting book, Vibha. Reminds me of another story set in a similar period- Ben Hur.

Also, it seems like that rare thing in YA literature- a story rooted in faith and spirituality.

ranjani.sathish said...

What a beautiful book....would definitely love to read this.

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