Literature: The Power of One
First with the head, then with the heart.The Power of One
(1989) is a novel by Bryce Courtenay set in South Africa just before and during World War II
. It follows the life of an English boy known only as
Peekay after his mother suffers a nervous breakdown and he gets sent to an Afrikaner Boarding School of Horrors
. After leaving the school, Peekay gets on a train for Barberton and meets Hoppie Groenwald, the train guard and a welterweight boxer. After witnessing Hoppie's match, the young boy is entranced by the sport and encouraged by Hoppie to become the welterweight champion of the world.A film adaption
was released in 1992. It scores a 2 on the Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification
. It should not be confused with the second Pokémon
movie, which in English bears the same title.
Provides Examples Of:
- The Alcoholic: Doc.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Subverted with Doc, and becomes a major plot point when he is sent to prison.
- All Jews Are Cheapskates
- The Apartheid Era
- A Protagonist Shall Lead Them
- Ax-Crazy: Jaapie Botha.
- Badass Bookworm: Peekay.
- The Bully: The Judge.
- Combat Pragmatist: When Peekay's boxing opponent drinks water, he focuses on punching him in the gut. Ouch.
- Cool Old Guy: Doc.
- Distinguishing Mark: The Judge's crude Swastika.
- During the War: One of the earliest events in the novel is The Judge mentioning Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland. Hoppie is later drafted to fight the Nazis.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Pisskop (Afrikaans for "Pisshead"), from which "Peekay" is derived. Also Rooinek ("Red Neck"), a disparaging term for Englishman.
- Friendless Background
- Good Old Fisticuffs: As the cover might suggest, boxing is central to the novel
- Hands-Off Parenting: Peekay's mother is rather uninvolved with her son's rearing, even after she returns for him.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Rasputin.
- Hot for Teacher
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Peekay himself. He is distinguished by the traits of extreme generosity and a love for people of all types of races, but he rarely passes judgment on others.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: Peekay is ridiculously intelligent (both naturally and from being tutored by Doc) and as such has no friends outside the boxing squad until he goes to The Prince of Wales School halfway through the book.
- Jerk Ass: The Judge.
- Jewish and Nerdy
- Kid Hero
- Kids Are Cruel / Teens Are Monsters: The Judge as a teenager and his entire crew.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Judge.
- Mighty Whitey: Oh boy.
- Mood Whiplash: The first few chapters of the book are a nightmarish Boarding School of Horrors story. After that Peekay gets on a train back to home and suddenly the mood and events of the story turn more upbeat.
- Nice Guy: Peekay, in spades.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown
- The Obi-Wan: Doc.
- Parental Abandonment
- Politically Incorrect Villain: The Judge.
- The Reveal: Jaapie Botha is actually The Judge.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: In the second half of the book Peekay is red to Hymie's blue.
- Second Boer War
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Jaapie Botha, formerly known as The Judge.
- The Sociopath: The Judge.
- Took a Level in Badass: Peekay.
- Weak, but Skilled: Hoppie's strategy to take down the heavyweight Jackhammer Smit is to effectively blind him with punches to the eye. Peekay is entranced by this sort of tactic and uses it when he takes up boxing.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Jackhammer Smit and Jaapie Botha. The "unskilled" part is their undoing.