The Evolution of Peekay in the Power of One
Think back to when you were five years old. Were you sent to a boarding school with kids a couple years older than you? Were you persecuted and bullied for being a “redneck” or for just being who you were? Chances are, the answer to these questions should be “no”. However, a small little boy growing up in Africa during the mid-1990s can probably describe every single tortuous day that he went through in this situation. His name is Peekay, and he is the narrator in Bryce Courtenay’s award-winning novel, The Power of One. Peekay describes his life form being a small five-year old boy to a teenager. Along the way, he meets many mentors and friends, such as Hoppie Groenewald, a champion boxer, “Doc”, a retired professor, and Geel Piet, a boxing coach. With the help of his mentors and friends, Peekay evolves from being an unsure little boy into a mature young man – living life without camouflage, with the ability to overcome adversity and strong faith in the power of one.
In Book One, Peekay hides behind a wall of camouflage in order to protect him from anything set out to threaten his survival; however, with the help of mentor Hoppie Greonewald, he overcomes his dependence on it. Camouflage, or to conceal something by making it match its surroundings, especially in appearance, is what most high school students try to do while on campus. They try to blend in, and not be the odd person out. Peekay does the exact same thing during the first half of the novel. In his first boarding school, Peekay learns that to stand out is dangerous and disappearing into the masses is the best camouflage. In fact, he becomes quite good at it. “I had become an expert at camouflage. My precocity allowed me, chameleonlike, to be to each what they required me to be.” (Courtenay, 472). Peekay frequently needs to present himself in various guises in order to survive the system. He compares himself to a chameleon that is so adept at camouflage...
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