Peekay narrated in the first person,allowing the reader an insight into his thoughts and feelings. We can clearly see that “The Power of One” is based on the author’s life,as known as Bryce Courtenay. He was born in 1939, he was an illegitimate child,and grew up in South Africa. At the age of five,he was sent to a boarding school,which was a mixture between a reform school and an orphans’ home. He was the youngest child in the school and was isolated by everybody,racism. Peekay’s Englishness created great problems for him at school,where the older,Afrikaans boys treat him brutally.
The Judge, known as Jaapie Botha,also called “stormtroopers” punish Peekay for his bedwetting habit and his circumcised penis by means of constant verbal and physical abuse. The Judge embarrassed Peekay in front of the school by pulling Peekay’s pants down,they called Peekay “pisskop” (piss head) to making fun of him.
…“The jury formed a ring around me. My teeth were chattering out of control. The Judge pointed to my tiny acorn.”Why you piss your bed,Rooinek?” he asked.
“Hey,look,there is no hat on his snake!” someone yelled. They all crowded closer.
“Pisskop! Pisskop!”-in a moment all he small kids were chanting.
“You hear,you a pisshead,” the Judge translated. “Who cut the head off your snake,Pisskop?”…(pg 5)
Peekay returned to school the following year with his problem solved,with Grandpa Chook, one of Inkosi-Inkosikazi’s magic chicken,and with the independent spirit he refers to as “the power of one”. Grandpa Chook became Peekay’s only friend at school. Peekay is heartbroken when the Judge killed Grandpa Chook by pelting him to death with a catapult. Peekay gave Grandpa Chook a fine burial and,at the end of the novel,he avenged Grandpa Chook’s death by beating up the Judge.
Peekay’s name is coined by Harry Crown,a Jewish man where Mevrou takes Peekay to buy shoes before the trip. Harry Crown said that the name “Pisskop” is not respectable name for a young man like him,and he dubbed Peekay a new name “P.K” instead.
On the train to Barberton,Peekay met Hoppie Groenewald,a boxing champion,”champion of the railways”. Hoppie showed Peekay his boxing gloves and he invited Peekay to watch him box a man called Jackhammer Smit. Peekay’s dream to become welterweight champion of the world is born.It is thus ambition which allows him to feel “The Power of One” within him.As Peekay fought his childhood enemy,the Judge,he drew on all of his boxing lessons. He committed Hoppie’s advice:”First with the head,then with the heart” to Peekay’s memory.
“Hoppie looked me straight in the eyes. “You’re almost looking at the railways boxing champion of the Transvaal,you know” He brought his finger and thumb together in front of my face. “That close and I would have been in the National Railways Boxing Championships in Cape Town.” (pg 72)…”
Here is the money you won.We sure showed that big gorilla who was the boss. Small can beat big. But remember,you have to have a plan—like when I hit Jackhammer Smit the knockout punch when he thought I was down for the count. Ha,ha. Remember always,first with the head and then with the hear. Without both,I’m telling you,plans are useless!…