The silver sword is a symbol of a number of things in the novel. Primarily, it is a symbol of hope: hope that Joseph will find his children again and that they are alive; and, to the children, it is a symbol of their father being alive, and of the hope that they will one day be reunited. It is also a symbol of Jan's role in the Balicki family; to Jan, it is a sort of talisman that keeps them all safe. He views it as a symbol of security, and of their ability to make their journey to Switzerland as a group without losing anyone on the way. The sword also symbolizes justice, rightness, peace through struggle, and protection. The children’s quest is a noble one and a just one, and the sword functions symbolically to bring them to their ultimate goal of reunion.
Allegory: Daniel In The Lion's Den
For Ruth, this represents the story of their own troubles. The lions are all the difficulties they are facing: hunger, cold, and hardship. If they are patient and trustful like Daniel, they will be delivered from these struggles, just as he was delivered from the lions. It is a way for her to see their struggles as part of a larger, more divine, and grander narrative. If Daniel could face adversity and prevail, they can too.
Allegory: Princess of the Brazen Mountains
Bronia is the Princess who “is flying through the sky on her grey-blue rings. Then the Prince, who had searched for her for seven long years, would be flying besides her, leading her to his mountain kingdom where they would live happily ever after” (81). Given her age, Bronia is the only child able to escape some of the trauma of the journey. She sees herself as a princess, and her father is the prince who will take them back to his “mountain kingdom” of Switzerland. Amazingly enough, even though Ruth sighs that her sister is foolish to believe in fairy tales, the family is reunited in the end.
Symbol: Switzerland as The Promised Land
Nothing will dissuade the children from going towards Switzerland, because it symbolizes finding their parents, safety, and everything that was good about the world before the German Nazis invaded Poland. They are resolute in their plan to reach the promised country and determined to find that it is all they dream it to be. Switzerland symbolizes a new start and the past being put behind them.
The entire reason for the actions of all of the Balickis is family. Joseph escapes from the Nazi prison because he wants to find his family. The children begin their journey to Switzerland because they want to find their parents. Throughout the book, the motif of family appears through both the central characters and the more peripheral ones. For example, Kurt Wolff's love for his own sons makes him more protective of the traveling children as he treats them as if they were his own.
The Silver Sword Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Silver Sword is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.