The Power of One Character Analysis

Topics: The Power of One Pages: 6 (2419 words) Published: March 26, 2013
The close of the school year returns our hero to his beloved Nanny who listens to his tale of torture and who introduces the first flavor of Africa to the western reader; she summons the great Inkosi-Inkosikazi, a medicine man who will cure the boy of the "night water." Nanny tells the boy's story with all the eloquence of the great storytellers while Inkosi-Inkosikazi and the others listen. Even our hero is in awe: "I can tell you one thing, I was mighty impressed that any person, most of all me, could go through such a harrowing experience." 6 All is set for the night; the chickens have been put through their magic, our hero has had his sweet potato, and it is time for him to meet Inkosi-Inkosikazi in his dreams. When this happens, our hero is shown a quiet place to which he can return in times of trouble. He does this later in the book when he feels a crisis. In the morning, the night water problem has been solved and Inkosi-Inkosikazi presents the boy with the scrawniest of the chickens. He is named Granpa Chook.

This chapter is significant for several reasons. As an introduction to the bildungsroman style, our hero is situated in a time and a place. His early tribulations are addressed and he is given weapons to deal with them. His ability to think things over is revealed, and the chapter ends with one hurdle overcome and the boy set to begin another year at boarding school. This time, though, he has the magic of Inkosi-Inkosikazi and Granpa Chook, "the first living creature over which I had held power." 7 He is learning that there are ways to cope with injustice. Just as he had decided to remain invisible, our hero learns that there is strength inside of him and that he can summon that strength when needed. He is able to find ways to survive the Judge and other oppressors. This gives hope to any reader who has felt himself the underdog. As the novel progresses, our hero's ability to rise to the surface despite how different he is to his companions tells the reader that we are all unique and that the power of each one can overcome daunting odds.

The above material should serve as the basis for one class discussion. For each chapter, the teacher should examine what is essential to fuel the discussion. This next portion of the narrative will concentrate on the transitional points in Peekay's development and the instances in which politics affect his life and environment.

The remainder of the first section of Book 1, which will be evaluated through a written assessment (see Appendix C) takes Peekay on a journey to his new home in Barberton. Peekay finishes his time at boarding school where he learns to adapt to the Judge and his "storm troopers" by doing the Judge's homework in hopes that the older boy will graduate and be out of his life. The Judge has carved a crude swastika on his arm. He agrees to allow Pisskop and Granpa Chook live until he passes math and then says Hitler will surely deal with them and they will be dead meat. This plan is altered when Pisskop refuses to eat the turds the Judge forces into his hands and Granpa Chook defecates in the howling Judge's mouth. He and the storm troopers beat the bird to death, leaving our hero to bury and mourn his only companion.

The school term ends, the Judge departs, and Mevrou, who, interestingly, also addresses our hero as Pisskop, prepares him for the journey to his new home by brusquely informing him that he will take the train alone. Free from the Judge, yet mourning the loss of Granpa Chook, they set out. When they meet Harry Crown, the Jew who sells them tackies, the man is appalled at the boy's name and suggests "Peekay" which our hero gratefully accepts. Thus far, Peekay has been loved by his Zulu nanny, despised by his Afrikaner schoolmates and subjected to the cruelties of budding Nazis, and treated kindly by a Jewish storekeeper. The next step involves Mevrou's emotionless parting from the boy when she consigns him to the care of the railway....
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