Anda di halaman 1dari 11

Madison Ryan

14 April 2015
The Power of One Critical Reading Journal (pages 3-101)

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay is a story about a young English boy in South Africa
during World War II. The first three chapters, the story follows the struggles he faces in his boarding
school. Told in a first person point of view, we as readers get to peer into the eyes and mind of the child
dubbed Peekay, formerly known as Pisskop. Through a childs eyes, we see the blatant innocence that a
kid would have to the entire idea of war and discrimination, and the absolute terror and confusion they
would experience in such an environment. A child of that age barely understands the alphabet, let alone
the murder and banishment of entire peoples. We the audience already know the heart wrench of the
second World War, the details ground into our memory. but a childs perspective, one as young as this is
a new take on it. While one of the most famous figures of WWII, Anne Frank, was a child, she at least
was old enough to comprehend what was going on. This child is not. It gives the reader a sense of subtle
horror to see it forced upon such a youngster, and in such a violent manner. A common theme I found in
these chapters was an outcasts need of concealment; even when Peekay had left behind his school, he
was still hiding aspects of who he was. He was very hesitant to tell Hoppie that he was a rooinek, or any
other aspects of himself. But theme most strongly held when he was still in school, held as a prisoner of
war for the child Nazis. Peekay thought himself inferior, and accepted it. Because of the Judge, he
thought any attention brought to him would have bad consequences. Yet I quickly realized that survival
means never being best at anything except being best at nothing, and I soon learned to minimize my
reading skills, appearing to pause and stumble over words that were perfectly clear to me. Mediocrity is
the best camouflage known to man (Courtenay 30). Peekay, at such a young age, had to fear for his
safety. He had come up with mechanisms to stay safe, even if it limited him. It was clear that he was very
intelligent, but to have to use that in such a way ties into the struggles of all the discriminated people in
WWII. We know that he worked for survival, to put aside the horror and terror that he had become used
to as primary emotions. The fact that he never stood up for himself shows that he was more concerned
with his survival than his own well-being. However, there is also a transformative element to the story,
where he is taught one of the most important lessons of his life. Hoppie teaches him that small can beat
big, an idea he does not believe at first, as the exact opposite was how he had lived for the past few years.
But watching Hoppie win an almost impossible fight with that lesson opened up whole new worlds for
Peekay. I had just witnessed the final move in a perfectly wrought plan where small defeats big. First
with the head and then with the heart. To the very end Hoppie had been thinking. I had learned the most
important rule in winning-keep thinking(Courtenay 98). Before this was taught to him, all Peekay knew
was survival. To do what you can to stay alive. Winning was death for him. But this new idea totally
shaped his world for his life ahead. This would ultimately make the reader feel hopeful for Peekay, seeing
a formerly pessimistic and fearful child find a light to guide him through life would make the audience
intrigued, and lighten the dim story that had so far been described.
The evidence suggesting that Peekay himself felt inferior is strong, yet mostly implied. Aside
from never standing up for himself, he constantly felt ashamed and afraid. For silly things such as his
English blood, or his snake. He always assumed that the worst would happen to him, and always
thought that he was in some way responsible. I knew, of course, that I was to blame and it struck me
with dismay that I had probably been the direct cause of my mothers nervous breakdown as
well(Courtenay 36). Even when he was hurt by his teacher on page 33, he was blamed for his teacher
fainting, and he was blamed for getting hurt. These factors would eventually develop into an inferiority
complex, as the mind of a five year old is very suggestible.
The root of Peekays bullying and suffering was the racial discrimination already instilled in the
people of South Africa. He would be tormented for his race, even though he was white. This only got
worse with the rising of Adolf Hitler, the poster child of discrimination and oppression. The spongy
minds of the children in Peekays school absorbed the propaganda surrounding them and acted on it, as
any child would. I remember when I was about Peekays age, my whole school believed anything easily.
The rumors that would fly in my kindergarten class could only rival that of Hollywood gossip magazines.
I found that the amount of detail put into the tortures and feelings and experiences of Peekay
thoroughly disgusted me, and sparked a very strong sense of horror and helplessness within me. I kept
putting down the book, finding it hard to continue reading. What really struck me in this story, though,
was the fact that the Judge and his groupies were so sold onto it that they totally disregarded their
humanity. Even in real life, many who act in such a way are always hesitant, or have regrets. Like the
Creepypasta murders last year, the two twelve year old girls almost didnt go through with it, and they
were much older than the Judge and Peekay. Maybe its because the characters in the story were too
young to fully comprehend what it was that they were doing. The reading often switches between the
confusion and trials of a five year old, and between the focus of discrimination, war, and the horror
inflicted to the reader because of these.
The writing style was very simplistic, perhaps to simulate the way a child as young as Peekay
would think. It simply told what was happening, and occasionally, Peekays initial reaction to it. Having
books with older characters have a lot more of in depth commentary and inner turmoil within the
characters thoughts and recollections. I was infected. I had no previous warning that I was wicked and it
came as a fearful surprise(Courtenay 4). This added to the feeling of innocence that Peekay had about
him, and thus to the horror that the reader would feel, in sympathy and disgust for what Peekay had to go
through. And perhaps it also made it easier to resonate with for the reader. Any person knew the feeling
of being an outcast and/or insecurity when they were younger. Had the book been written like a normal
book, with a lot of thought, and complex writing styles, it would have been a little more difficult to pay
attention to. The idea of it being so intriguing is that the audience gets a clear window into the inner
workings of a child--it would not have felt this way if it were typed like an adult had been thinking about
it, not a child. The writing style was rather childlike, in accordance with the young mind of Peekay. In
many instances, the tone is often bewildered. Peekay, at such a young age, does not understand or
comprehend the concept that some people are below others. He understands rank and race discrimination
somewhat, thanks to the Judge, but the idea that some people are just not equal confuses him. Like when
Hoppie took him to get new tackies, Peekay was instantly charmed by the shop owners, but soon dialed
down his interest when he noticed Hoppies behavior towards them. I could tell from the way he looked
at her that she was somehow not equal. I had though only kaffirs were not equal, so it came as quite a
surprise that this beautiful lady was not also(Courtenay 77). The fact that the reader understands these
ideas and lifestyles while Peekay is left very puzzled at them creates a very large element of dramatic
irony. Also, I found that there were many moments in the chapters that, though meant to be humorous to
the characters, was very depressing to the reader. Such as Hoppies racist jokes, or Hetties tales about her
husband. This added an small bit of situational irony as well. It made the reader feel somewhat detached
from the story, even though we are looking in from within the mind of the protagonist. It makes it feel
like the reader is like some entity, looking down upon a world of which we know the fate of. This could
have been different. The author could have just plunged Peekay head first into the world of racism, but, in
fact, did not. He skirted the edges of atrocity, hinting at and just barely acknowledging it. I feel like he did
this to put more emphasis on the fact that this was everyday life, and not known as hideous evil.
This material is really very significant for anyone. Mostly for adults or more mature people. It
shows the classic behaviors of children who had been raised on certain ideals, and clues into what these
children will become. If they are already so Nazi and hatred oriented, and their ideas of torture so severe,
then it can only get worse if these seeds of cruelty are watered with age. It also shows how Boer children
were brought up, what ideals their parents had. That English people were the root of all their problems,
and that they must be hated and put down for it. It paints a picture on what life on the white side was like
in these apartheid ridden times, and that oppression was not limited to the white-black conflict, but all
racial groups were in a discriminatory free-for-all. It makes me look at the world a little harder. Though I
was aware that all races having problems getting along, the black-white segregation was always the most
notable that Ive been taught. And, in almost all, it was the English doing the oppressing. To see it
reversed was certainly very new and shocking to me. It was always a possibility, but the fact it could get
as serious as this was appalling. Racism isnt just whites over colored. Its two races, where one feels the
need to be more powerful over the other. And I think that thats something that a lot of people forget. It
makes me more speculative, sensitive, and attentive towards the history lessons we are taught about. I had
an epiphany that this was not only South Africa. When the Yankees hunted Tories back in the Revolution,
for example. I was taught to just gloss over the fact that whites could be subjected by other whites too, but
it didnt matter because we were all white. Its about the discrimination towards peoples, not their skin
To read this, I felt genuinely horrified. What Peekay had to go through made me feel ill, mentally
and physically. Having a sister that age made me especially sensitive to the material as well, I think; to
imagine my little sister having to face what Peekay did was awful. To imagine any kid having to go
through what Peekay did was awful. I felt disgusted by the amount of hatred being shoved down these
childrens throats, to see a kid being able to hate at all was very upsetting. The fact that the adults felt that
it was Peekays fault, as well, made me angry and sad. Ag, is that all?...Please, Mevrou, I fell on a
rock...Yes, I can see that(Courtenay 52). It has been implied that even Mevrou was very prejudiced
against Peekay as well all throughout his stay at the boarding school, but its obvious that she would have
known about his getting bullied. This just proves she cares little about what was done to him and his own
well being. An adult, a teacher, at that, should always try to guide the young, regardless of how they were
These four chapters quite brutally introduced the topic hatred in children. While nothing was
directly said about it, there is much for the reader to analyze and deduce. A child does not understand
much, barely language and simple maths, and definitely not how the world works, or war. These children
were taught to be this way from people stuck in the past, too bitter to move forward. We see this in
modern day, parents forcing religion down their childrens throats, teaching them to discriminate concepts
they dont even know about, such as homosexuality. We see children waving flags and and holding up
signs and bullying each other just because their parents painted a world full of hatred for them, instead of
one of opportunity.
The ending was less of an ending,and more of a beginning. Of Peekay putting this atrocious past
behind him and moving forward for change. What did end was the Judges reign of terror, and the
monoger Pisskop. The time spent at boarding school was more of a prologue, and the fourth chapter a
transition into a better life.
1.) What does the Judge and his Nazis say about the people of South Africa? Were they
brainwashed or was it their own personal opinions?
2.) How was Peekay feeling in all of this? What emotions might have been going on inside?

Madison Ryan
14 April 2015
The Power of One Critical Reading Journal (pages 102-255)
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay is a coming of age story about a young boy named
Peekay who must learn how the world works, in a dark time when said world is at one of the most
devastating wars known to man. The story is told from his first person point of view, so the audience gets
to see the thoughts and sights of Peekay as he works his way through multiple trials of character. Through
Peekays eyes, we see the complete purity and confusion that a that a child would experience when faced
with the impurity and complexity of the world around him. Not only has he been cut off from the world
for most of his life at boarding school, but his age alone leaves him clueless to many customs. We as the
audience get the opportunity to learn, and to grow in character. This, I believe, is to enhance the coming
of age aspect of the story. This also introduces the theme of, coincidentally, the Power of One. Peekay
begins to show his need for independency, learning from the adult figures in his life the power that he has
within. Another very important lesson he learned on his trip home was from the giant of a woman, Big
Hettie. In this story, we see that she has a very clear eating disorder, and perhaps a few addictions. But
she still supported Peekay all she could, despite her own faults. Her last dying breath was used to teach
Peekay about being confident in life. Peekay, you will be a great welterweight, I know it. You have
pride and courage. Remember what I told you about pride and courage? Pride is holding your head up
when everyone around you has theirs down. Courage is what makes you do it(Courtenay 124). Peekay
had formerly been very reserved, only wanting to blend in and get by, not reach anything special. But her
words motivated him to follow his dream. Pride and courage are two of the most important traits of a
successful person and leader. But what really put these new qualities in Peekay out into the light was his
rebellion against his mother. She was forcing him to follow her religion, to be dependent on religion, to
follow her way. But Peekay refused, openly shouting his discontent and immediately going to be alone.
His reasons for this was his utmost disapproval and disagreement with his mothers teachings--he would
follow no word but his own. This is the first major showing of his newfound courage, devotion, and
Two new and most notable characters whom Peekay has met are Doc and Geel Piet. Doc, a
nickname for an excruciatingly long title and name, is a German professor with a peculiar love of cacti
and the closest thing that Peekay has to a father. Doc introduces new ways of thinking to Peekay,
something that would change his life. Peekays intelligence, love of music, and ways of fighting
(physically and metaphorically) grow because of Docs expertise. However, due to unfair circumstances,
Doc is arrested for being German and accused of high treason. Neither of these are true, of course, but this
fact gives Peekay
These are reliable assumptions made, as they were built on sound foundation. The evidence is
straight from Peekays own point of view, his feelings very thoroughly described. Drawing conclusions
from these are simple, by connecting the evidence with Peekays surroundings, with logic, and with our
own knowledge of how people and children work. What caused Peekays outburst was his own newfound
sense of opinion. In the previous chapters, he simply followed what he was being told. Now he
understood what he wanted and believed, and would not let anyone change that. Perhaps he had realized
that he was done being controlled and altered, from being done so by the Judge for so long. Every
character so far has taught him something, or affected him in a way that caused him to grow as a person.
One thing that struck me was the amount of detail put into the plodding moments, but the real
plot events actually were very short. Im not sure if that is just the writing style or if theres a hidden
meaning behind it. Drastic moments may seem slow to a person, especially to a child, but in the grand
scheme of time, the most heavy moments pass like blinks--in such a manner that they are blips on a very
long line. The long moments that held little actual meaning acted as a bit of a soothant, letting the reader
calm down from the shocking moments of Peekays life. It makes me reconsider the progression of life,
however. We always see the most notable moments in our personal timeline, and they make up most of
our memories. But these moments are actually, in the grand scheme of things, few and far apart compared
to the dull moments and routine of everyday life.
A particular thing that startled me was the lack of humanity found in the side characters. It
seemed that no one besides Peekay cared that a woman just died. Did no one care that a person, as alive
and living a life as vibrant as theirs, had just died? They were laughing and chatting as men do when
they are having a bit of a holiday from routine. Big Hettie could be moved now (Courtenay 124). Was a
stranger nothing but an object to them? And not only this, but also Hoppie, who seemed so kind and open,
was very racist. He would crack jokes against the black people, and would make negative assumptions
about Indians. His warm nature fell away like an avalanche as a hard rock persona bared itself,
threatening and insulting the Indian salesmen when they went to exchange the tackies. It made me
question whether the story was about a boy coming of age and learning about the world, or a boy learning
that no one is as they seem. The discriminatory arrest of Doc, the brutal murder of Geel Piet, all examples
of the worst qualities of people.
The writing in this part of the book is spongy in a way I cannot describe. We can sense the
amount of knowledge that Peekay is taking in. We can feel his mind shift from a childs to a learning
youths. This part focuses a lot more on his emotions, now that hes old enough to know how to describe
them. Not only that, but we see more complex thought processes. We get to see the cogs turn in his brain
when he fights, analyzing the outcomes and using his smarts to his advantage. It uses symbolism very
strongly, using characters and events as markers for what is to come. Kroon was his own original
helplessness and self doubt, the team was his path to success. The People whom he helped was his
support, his start on activism to end generalizations and strive for equality.
The material is very significant in that it illustrates to the reader the fact that South Africa, to its
people in power, was not a horrible racist and cruel society. To them it was everyday life, custom. To see
a black man beat in the street was commonplace, and to see them poor and helpless as ordinary as seeing
a duck in a pond. And this fact, when thought about in detail, hits the reader hard. Because racism like
apartheid was and is present throughout the world, and hatred and suffering inflicted on entire peoples for
how they were born is just as regular as going out for a sip of coffee. We see and hear horror stories
about segregation and racism every day in history, and in the news. But to dive into that subject, not as a
voyeur, but as a participant, is astonishing. The people are no longer numbers and statistics, they are no
longer just hurt people in a photograph. They are actual people, like anyone else that we know, or that we
are. And it sparks a need to recall all of those things we learned in history class or hear in the news,
because now you feel like you are a part of it. To feel so involved, as I did, is actually very startling.
Were all familiar to being emotionally attached to fictional characters, but to feel emotionally attached to
the stories of real people and feel the same way, if not stronger, awakens a new sense of empathy in what
it means to be human. Thats not something thats common in books.
The ending of these last few chapters, involved Peekay living out his life motto for the first time.
He beat Kroon, a Goliath to his David. It was the ending of his helplessness. It was the ending of him
being told what to do. It was the beginning of his lifelong dream and career. It ended his period of being
weak and reliant on others. It started his incentive for personal strength, his power of one.
1.) Was Hoppie a good role model?
2.) What does his victory against Kroon mean for Peekay? The meeting of all these new characters?

Madison Ryan
14 April 2015
The Power of One Critical Reading Journal (pages 256-385)

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay is a story following the life of a young boy named
Peekay. His name holds a deep meaning, as it stands as a symbol for his own independence and need to
make his own choices, not letting anyone decide his life. The audience gets to read the story from his own
first person point of view, letting us view the inner workings of his mind as well as the world around him,
in great emotional detail. From this perspective, readers get a look at a violent and cruel world through a
unique pair of eyes--a childs. Because of this, we are allowed to see the world in its truest forms, as
children have no need to censor what they see or think. So far, I have seen the cruel traditions of
apartheid, even before they were legally instated. I have seen the injustice that people have faced and
suffered from for their race and culture, what they were born into. This, in my opinion and observations,
is written like this to show life in a subtle, detached, yet somehow depressing and horrifying manner. A
major theme we find in this portion of the book is the meaning of being human; whether through personal
growth and wit, or from basic day to day things and feelings. One example that we, the audience get of
this, is the lovely example of Geel Piet. A poor soul, born into a life that very few can accept. For
example, his inclusion into the boxing teams photo on page 265. Most of the copies of that photo had
been destroyed, but the fact that he had been recognized as a part of the team, regardless of race, meant so
much to him. It was a sign that even the most close-minded of men could open up and accept other
humans, disregarding their race and favoring themselves as people instead. [Geel Piet] kept it in the
piano stool and looked at it every day when he collected the prisoners mail(Courtenay 266). Another
take on this theme would be Morries perspective, on page We had all cawed and and moaned at the
story, but Morrie, as usual, had made his point: good conversational debate is an end in itself, and talking
for the love of conversation is what makes us human(Courtenay 385). In this quote, it means that, to be
human, you must interact with and love your fellow homo sapiens. This can also be seen when Peekay
grounds himself and keeps himself happy and intact with Doc, and Morrie. People are what help him
grow to be the person he is today, and the person he will be tomorrow.
Peekays own skills and knowledge were learned from people. He would never have had the
skills at boxing he has now without the help of Geel Piet and his other fellow boxers. He never would
have been able to survive and work a system in his favor without Morrie. He would not have been able to
learn how to be open-minded without Doc, and would never have been inspired to follow his dreams
without Hoppie. In the end, it is what he learned from others, even if it was negatively, that shaped his
character and personality and mind and world.
What I found very shocking and moving in these six chapters was the amount of weight the
artistic and spiritual elements of the story had. The curse placed on the Lieutenant Borman after his brutal
murder of Geel Piet, and the fatal effect it had on him. He suffered the same death his victim did. There
are countless possible scientific explanations for this, but the mystical element had a big impact on the
audience. Not only this, but the beauty of Docs concert for the prisoners was beautiful. The reader could
easily imagine being in a place of such unity and art and sound. It was sad, and made me feel as if I were
a character in the story, mourning the loss of Geel Piet. It was emotionally draining, yet very memorable.
Such artful and emotional scenes are not easily forgotten by any human--they are a big aspect of life.
The writing style is becoming increasingly complex, seeming to grow and develop alongside
Peekay. His increasing maturity is reflected in his thought processes.Look, Morrie, it meets every
criterion weve established for a business. There is a known need for our services. The risk factor is small
and easy to control-our creditors can hardly default, can they? We dont have to borrow capital and he
profits are reasonable and regular (Courtenay 353). This shows that Peekay is not only maturing and
becoming increasingly open-minded, but also coming to focus in the world around him. He is developing
a sort of savvy, a clever way to keep himself afloat and to survive by making a system that works for him.
Before Morrie, he would never have cared about money, but after realizing his need for it in life, he uses
his knowledge to his advantage to make a stable business plan. The author could have easily stated that he
started a business with Morrie without the actual work in it. But then we would think Morrie was the
brains behind it all, and Peekay was along for the ride. But to see the growth that Peekay had, from broke
and clueless, to business savvy, was stunning. It made the reader feel slightly proud. Without that key
display of Peekays learning, he would be a lot more static as a character.
The material matters in that we see the true pain a person of a certain race, that they were
subjected to the worst things imaginable. We see how people can also learn empathy, even after living
under a certain lifestyle for so long. Every person, though they act differently, are born with the same
components. Everyone has a capacity for darkness, compassion, anger, happiness, etc. How a person
chooses to use these parts define them, and also leave a person open for improvement at any time.
These last chapters made me really want to step into the shoes of people who had lost so many
dear to them. Peekay took it all gracefully, learning from their deaths, remembering them fondly, and still
listening to their advice everyday of his life. He accepted them as part of himself. But I know that this is
not how all, or most people deal with it. They are tortured, saddened, ultimately damaged. But if everyone
has a capacity for improvement, perhaps it is harder for them to see that? Or they do not want to. Its a
very complex ordeal, and I want to be able to understand them, so I may help them.
The entire piece was always shifting, moving like a stormy sea of emotion. It made me wonder if
Peekay would, at times, masquerade as a man with a reason, or any other character at all. It made me feel
that once Peekay found a sense of home or happiness, the world would rip it out from under him, in an
attempt to retell the story of Icarus, the boy who flew too high. I felt heartbroken and horrified at the
atrocities done to human beings, from human beings. It brought up the subject of death, and how people
respond to it. How deaths effects vary on the person. There was mass mourning for Geel Piet, but when
Borman died, no one cared. Some may even have felt joy because of it. It says a lot about lifes meaning.
What ended here was Peekays childhood. By now, he has grown up enough that he is not longer
a child, but a young man. He is no longer innocent, or a stranger to death and pain. He may even be a
borderline expert in those topics. But his childhood is not all that ended. It was the end of an era, the end
of his grace period. He must face the real world, devoid of cushioning.

1.) Did Borman die of an actual curse, or what else could have happened?
2.) In what ways are Borman and Smit different? Alike/
Madison Ryan
14 April 2015
The Power of One Critical Reading Journal (pages 386 -513)

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay is a revolutionary story about the life of a boy named
Peekay, who faces unimaginable odds to become a man. We are told his story through him, his own first
point of view. This offers to the reader every detail that Peekay thought, felt, or saw. This is very
important, in such a complex and notorious setting. Peekay not only face his own internal struggles of
emotion, insecurity, doubt, and fear, but also a myriad of struggles externally as well. The deaths of the
people who held the most meaning to him, the threat of the unjust law of his nation, the pressure of being
the Tadpole Angel, and the probability of his own success. The main themes illuminated in this story
include a major concept that also acted as our protagonists life motto: that small can beat big, if you use
your head before your heart. And the need for independency and need to dictate ones own life. This
first theme, that small can beat big, if you use your head before your heart, can be best seen in Peekay,
though it applies to all characters as well. This motto that Peekay lives by, the last message that Hoppie
gave him, was what got him to where he is today, victorious over his inner demons, and his demons of the
past. It can and has been used physically, to win boxing matches. For example, when he fights Geldenhuis
in a rematch, on pages 405 and 406. Peekay continuously analyzed his opponent, thinking his way
through the problem, and fighting his way to victory because of it. This shows Peekay using the motto in
a very literal way, by thinking ahead in his boxing and using his head to win, as well as his own gut
feelings. There are many fight scenes such as this one--Peekay has the phrase burned into his brain,
affecting his way of thinking. But there are also less literal ways that he uses the lesson to his advantage.
In pages 444 through 454, Peekay faces centuries old tradition and hatred to educate his friends and
followers, to live up to his title as Tadpole Angel and help the People. He convinces his headmaster to
start a night school for the black boxers and children, in an effort to educate them and give them a chance
in the world. Such a feat would not have been possible or likely, if he had not used his head to come out
on top. To recruit an educated and passionate leader to convince their headmaster was a brilliant and
effective plan, and to use the law against its enforcers was a feat of pure quick thinking. This describes
the theme that small can beat big, by leading a small group against the ways of life used for the past three
hundred and fifty years. Peekay was determined to keep his movement going, to keep his cause afloat.
The theme is not only a boxing motto, but a message that means determination and activism for Peekay.
The next theme can be seen very effectively in Peekays time in the mines. From his refusal of letting
Morrie pay for his school tuition, for only letting himself rely on his own person, he ended up working in
the mines. He needed to be independent, to get time away from debt, his responsibilities, etc. It was far
away from the people who held me so dearly within the thrall of the ambitions. It was away from the
legend of the Tadpole Angel. It was even away from boxing. I saw it as an opportunity to come to terms
with myself and build my body to the size of a welterweight(Courtenay 474). Peekay used the isolation
to his advantage, a pattern that seems to keep repeating itself over in his life. Peekays entire life so far is
a vicious yet rewarding cycle of pain and growth, both personally and physically.
What struck me in these final chapters was how much Peekay had grown up, and at such a young
age. The book ends with him being about eighteen years old, with him having the wisdom of someone at
least twice that age. Perhaps this is because of what has happened to him? I believe it is because of what
he did to others, his effect on the world. Not only has he managed to become a chief of The People, but he
has gained more knowledge than professionals on certain topics, he has learned multiple languages, never
lost a fight, learned from his oppressors, made friends in unlikely places, and changed hundreds, if not
thousands of lives for the better.
And, some particular elements that shocked me, and made me rethink the entire book was Judges
appearance. It made absolutely no sense, it was a very obvious cop out, but; it reflected the beginning of
the book perfectly. Rasputin (Rest in peace, you lovely Russian) had died protecting Peekay the same way
that Grandpa Chook had, and had also provided the same comforting companionship. The Judge attacked
Peekay, head muddled with powder the same way his had been with Nazi ideals when he was younger.
But this time Peekay fought back, and won. When the Judge had been conquered, I had a sort of
epiphany--each character represented something in Peekays life. The Judge was the hatred and injustice
that Peekay would have to face his entire life, both internally and externally. Hoppie was metamorphosis,
and determination. Hettie was pride and courage. His mother was close-mindedness, as Doc was open-
mindedness. Geel Piet stood for personal progress and Morrie was success and administration. Mandoma
stood for leadership and devotion. Rasputin and Grandpa Chook were companionship and support. This
realization transformed the whole book for me, and turned it into one very long, five hundred page
This metaphor could easily be analyzed, and fuel to make people think Peekay was a symbol of
the people of South Africa. While I cant disagree, that is just not how the book felt to me. I felt that
Peekay, who started out so young and innocent, and was mutilated in character, then watered and
nurtured, was not a metaphor for the people of South Africa. He was instead, a metaphor for a single
person. He represented the best of humanity, and a symbol of progressions and courage for others. He was
not the people, he was an inspiration for them.
This book could have been vastly different if the smallest details were changed. If it had been told
in third person, as Cry, The Beloved Country was, so much more would have been left to speculation.
We would not have known that fiery determination for independence, we would have seen blatant
determination. For we can only see from the outside, like a passerby in third person, not a witness that
was in the protagonists actual mind. Peekay would have come off less as the strong and complex
character we knew him to be, but as a very stubborn, and very determined person, with little personal
growth. We would not have seen his fear and need for camouflage, or the words that drove him every day
of his life.
This material matters, in that it shows the reader what a true human can be. Peekay was an easy
role model, a perfect one. Determined, kind, open minded, courageous, emotional, and fought for what
was right. He knew his own limits, and though he faced strong internal struggles, he always knew how to
learn and grow from them. It shows how that even in the darkest and least opportune places, bright lights
of hope can flourish, if we let them. Both within ourselves and in others. It showed that hatred caused
nothing, it was kindness and strength that made a person powerful, not skin color. Other works will depict
heroes as valiant and courageous people who push aside their own feelings or well beings for the greater
good. But a true hero of the human race is one that will accept what is thrown at him, learn from it, use it
to develop themselves and others, and will follow themselves to the end. They will understand their
emotions and use them to remain human. A hero is an everyday person who simply understands
themselves and strives to help others.
I cant say I like this book. Every word I read, I wanted it to end. But I also cant say it didnt
touch me. It influenced my definitions of right and wrong, of heroes, of human nature, of many concepts I
thought myselves to know about. The characters may be fictional, but the emotional impact is real. It
made me wish to touch hearts and spark movement as Peekay did, to be as independent as he was, to be
so focused that he reached success always, and never failed. He was brave, he pushed at social norms, and
when I do that, half the time I find parts of myself shrinking down in fear that I was wrong. But in
revolution, there is no right or wrong, there is change. Where the people who make that happen take it,
only the Universe knows.
This story ended, but not truly. It left many loose threads open, for readers to latch onto and
continue themselves. It was a coming of age story, in a way of which I have not seen before. It ended the
largest problem that Peekay had faced so far; his inner demons, his nightmares, his hatred. He grew so
much that all of his internal conflict slipped away for the time being. What ended was a boys basic
evolution from child to man. But evolution is never complete, in that it keeps going. And likewise,
Peekay will keep growing, and inspiring others to grow, in ways we will never know for sure.

1.) Did Peekay end up being the welterweight champion of the world?
2.) Was there a deeper meaning to the ending? The characters?