The Power of One

Brendon, Bre, Tori, and Wes

Establishing the Context

  • When and where: South Africa 1940. Beginning of World War II, the rise of Hitler, and apartheid.

  • Social context: Peekay is an Englishman (rooinek) in South Africa and the Boers hate him for it. At that time in South Africa, the British were in the minority but had the most political and financial power. The less well-off Boers hated them for it. Conflict had already existed between them before, after the result of the British victory in the Anglo-Boer war in 1902. The British forced thousands of Boers into concentration camps where many died.

    • There is also the split between people of color. The whites are racist towards all non-white ethnic groups, but especially blacks (“coolies” - Indian, “kaffir”- Black).

    • For example, "Klipkop stepped out of the photographer's former arrangement. 'No way, man! I'm not having my photo taken with a blery kaffir!" (265).

  • Political context: World War II and aftermath of Anglo-Boer War (concentration camps) lead to a political split.

    • Boers, or the National Party, support Nazi Germany and Hitler as shown by the children tattooing Swastikas on themselves, while the South African Party (the British) supports the Allies

    • "There is already too much hate in this land of ours. This country has been starved of love too long" (114).

    Content Components

    • Modern Context
      • Mayweather vs. Pacquiao = Peekay vs any of his opponents. Peekay is usually seen as the underdog because of his size.

      • Boxing is one of the most popular sports in South Africa - recent popularity with the May/Pac fight

      • Tensions between race still exist: Ferguson, Baltimore. However, nothing as extreme as apartheid is present today.

      • Upsets in sports - everyone loves an underdog

      • Significance to peers

        • “First with the head, then with the heart” (mind must guide the heart)

        • Enduring through humiliation and loss, overcoming adversity

        • Bildungsroman, all people must face a hurdle in their life. This is specifically a coming of age story. As we head off to college, and start our journey to adulthood, the power of finding oneself is vital.

      • Literary value

        • Theme: Power of one
        • Head and heart must coexist and cooperate. Each mentor reinforces a lesson about the power of one, and each bequeaths new gifts of knowledge which become tools for the power of spirit. “The power of one is … more than simply mixing brains with guts. It means … daring your courage to follow your thoughts.“
        • With the point of view being Peekay, a young child facing racism, the reader is able to gain knowledge on the innocence and evil of the apartheid, no matter the age
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