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“The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay is a novel which illustrates the harsh truths of the systematic racism faced during South Africa’s apartheid. Showing the oppression and abuse of African people Courtenay contrasts the injustice with the individuality of the main character Peekay. Courtenay uses Peekay’s unprejudiced and independent spirit to show how one personcan help to heal the tensions between the oppressed and the oppressor.
From a young age Peekay is forced to become independent because of the isolation he faces during his first time at boarding school. This allows Peekay to spend pivotal years of his childhood forming his own opinions on his worldview and not others. This is shown when Peekay is polite to Mr. Patel despite the …show more content…
Peekay makes a particularly strong connection with one of the oldest prisoners named Geel Piet. Together, Geel Piet helps to coach Peekay into an incredibly skilled boxer and in return Peekay helps him run a business and letter correspondence inside of the prison. As the book progresses Peekay and Geel Piet begin to have a very close friendship despite the fact that Peekay is surrounded by people who absurd prisoners like Geel Piet. This makes Geel Piet’s death even more tragic to Peekay which is seen when Peekay says, “‘Please, Geel Piet! Please get up! If you can get up, you’ll be alive again! It's true!’” (p291). For the first time in his life Peekay witnesses the harsh realities that racism can cause; and loses a companion because of it. The isolation Peekay feels because of Geel Piet’s death forces him to rely more on himself, finding his own power. Peekay channels his pain into a drive to continued Geel Piet’s legacy and he continues to help the prisoners write to their families and even goes as far as to help them receive an education which betters their lives and their families’ lives. This small act of independence creates a ripple of growth for an oppressed …show more content…
As he develops in his boxing and in his education he begins to take further action to improve life for the African peoplethat he meets. After fighting the son of his former nanny, Gideon Mandoma, Peekay helps add Africanboxers to the gym he boxes in. This gives a platform to talented individuals to grow their skills and as Peekay grows closer to them as friends he decides to open a night school for them so that he can give them more opportunity. “‘We’re going to start a school for Solly’s black boxers,’” (p444). Despite the fact that trying to open up a school for African boxers could jeopardize his place at Prince of Wales School Peekay is independent enough to still try it because he knows that it is right to give deserving and hard working people an education. Peekay’s insistence pays off in the end, and he is able to open a night school and begin educating not only African boxers but also other African workers in the surrounding area. Peekay’s independent mindset and ideals are the reason he was able to open the school and help so many

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