The Power of One Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Power of One

The book opens with a white British 5-year-old being sent away from his home (and his sympathetic black nanny, who provides him with a lifelong understanding of black South African culture) on a South African chicken farm, to a rural, barely-civilized boarding school where all the other kids are Afrikaans. It's the late 1930s, and the Afrikaaners (Boers) hate the British, so the boy comes in for an enormous amount of physical and mental abuse - and acquires his nickname, Pisskop, which he later co-opts, calling himself 'Peekay' (in fact, we never learn his 'real' name - he becomes a one-name hero).
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From there, we follow Peekay as he grows up over the next 12 years, becoming a successful scholar and a boxer, and in the process we learn a great deal about the political and racial situation in South Africa as it existed between about 1938-1950.
The review of this Book prepared by Sarah Welstead

The Power of One is a coming of age story revolving around a young British boy named Peekay. When the boy's mother suffers from a nervous breakdown he is sent off to a boarding school. This school is full of Boers, Afrikaaners who hate the British for trying to control the government. This is where Peekay first experiences extreme hatred for being different. He is tortured and demeaned by an older boy who he calls "The Judge".

This boy and his friends pee on him, beat, make him eat feces and kill his animal friend in the time that Peekay is at the first boarding school. After two years, Peekay is called back home which is now in Barberton. In order to get to his new home he must take a train ride that will forever change his life. On the train Peekay meets Hoppie Groenwald, a pro welter weight boxer that teaches Peekay, "First with the head, then with the heart that's how you'll get ahead from the start".

He plants the dream in Peekay to become welter weight champion of the world. He also becomes the first friend of Peekays. When Peekay arrives in Barberton (his new home) he soon meets Doc. An elderly gentleman who becomes a mentor and friend to Peekay. Doc gets arrested for being a German alien during the war and gets taken to Barberton Prison. While visiting Doc at the prison Peekay meets his first boxing coaches, Luitenant Smit and Geel Piet. Geel Piet is a black man, so he is discriminated against. Soon Geel Piet becomes more than a boxing coach to Peekay, he becomes a friend. When Geel is brutally murdered Peekay witnesses the first death of a friend.

As Peekay's boxing career progresses he never loses a boxing match. He becomes known to the blacks as the "Tadpole Angel" Soon Peekay goes to a second boarding school where he meets another important friend, Maury, a witty Jewish boy. They quickly bond, Maury starts to manage the wrestling team and seeing Peekays talent, the two begin a betting ring. They rake in the winnings because Peekay NEVER loses.

When Peekay returns home on break from school he hears that Doc had gone missing, he soon figures out he has passes away and has to come to grips with losing his first best friend. Peekay sees the inequality in the education of blacks and starts up a night school for the black boxers which is quickly shut down by authorities. Peekay applies to Oxford, gets accepted but does not get the scholarship he needs to attend. He decides to take a year off between school and college and work in the mines to earn the money. Peekay finishes the mining classes and starts working. A man living in the camps befriends him, his name is Rasputin. Although the two do not speak the same language the connect through classical music and share a silent commradarie. One day while working in the mine an explosion does not go as planned and Peekay is trapped beneath tons of rubble. Rasputin comes to his rescue and save him, in the process losing his own life.
The review of this Book prepared by R. Attaway

The Power of One will take its readers on a journey during the time of apartheid in South Africa. Peekay, a precocious British boy, faces many challenges and learns how to deal with the South African culture and the many adversities that come his way. Throughout his childhood, Peekay meets several people that impact his life deeply. On the train to Barberton, he meets Hoppie, a boxing champion who works with the railways. Hoppie introduces Peekay to boxing, forever changing his life. From then on, Peekay has the ambition to dominate the world of boxing. Before meeting Hoppie, though, Peekay was sent to boarding school, where he was tortured and bullied on to no end. Boxing helped Peekay physically and mentally to overcome his fears and to defend himself. This is a book that teaches the values of friendship, and the importance of confidence and determination, the power of one.
The review of this Book prepared by EAcurio

The Power of One is a novel about a young British boy, Peekay, who grows up in South Africa during WWII. Throughout this novel, Peekay has many encounters that change his life, some more positive than others. His frist experience with hate and prejudice came at an early age. An older boy at Peekay's first boarding school, who was called "The Judge", was a Boer, an Afrikaner. The Boers hate the British because the British are trying to change South Africa.

Peekay is discriminated against by "The Judge" on many occasions. He is peed on, beat on, degrated, and forced to eat human waste. On occasion changed Peekay's life forever. His best animal friend, a chicken named Grandpa Chook, was stoned to death by The Judge and Jury. On Peekay's train ride home he meets Hoppie Groenwald, a professional Welter Weight boxer.

Hoppie puts this outrageous idea in Peekay's head that Peekay can become the next Welter Weight Champion of the World. Hoppie's appearance in the novel is very short but very important. Hoppie tells Peekay to always say to himself "First with the Head, then with the Heart". This saying stays with Peekay and becomes essential to his life. Peekay then meets Doc, a German scientist who is also a professional classical musician. Doc teaches Peekay to always think, always ask questions. Doc encourages Peekay to NEVER hide his intellect.

Doc however, is put into the Barberton Prison because he is a German. Doc receives special treatement from the Kommandant and guards for his accomplishments. He is allowed to keep his piano at the prison and continue private lessons with Peekay among many other things. Peekay also begins taking lessons on boxing from Lt. Smit. He coaches the Barberton Blues and holds practices at the prison gym in the mornings.

The Barberton Blues compete in many tournaments throughout South Africa. Peekay soon becomes the youngest and the best boxer on the squad. Much of Peekay's success is due to a black prisoner named Geel Piet. Geel Piet was looked down upon as scum of the earth except when he was coaching in the ring. Geel Piet became a dear friend of Peekay and his death greatly affected Peekay.

Ms. Borenstien helps Peekay recieve a scholarship to yet another boarding school in Johannesburg called The Prince of Whales School. There he meets his first friend of the same age named Morrie. Peekay realized that without Geel Piet, his dream of becoming Welter Weight Champion would never come true. He discusses this with Morrie and the two place a rather large bet on a rugby match to earn enough money to pay for a coach. Solly Goldman ran a gym where he taught people how to box. Blacks and whites arn't allowed to fight in public for the same title. Solly furthers Peekay in boxing and Peekay has never lost a boxing match--ever. Morrie attends a boxing match of Peekay and sees just how horrible segregation is.

The two boys start a school for the blacks. They feel that the blacks deserve just as much of an education as anyone else.
The review of this Book prepared by Alissa

The Power of One is a novel based on war, prejudice, and aparthied in South Africa in the 1930's. It's about Peekay, a precocious British chid whose mother suffers from depression. He is sent to boarding school, and is constantly bullied and teased by other kids, especially an older kid called "the judge". Peekay survives the first school and then encounters some very important people, including Hoppie, the boxing champion of the railways, who tells Peekay about many things, including life, prejudice, and boxing.

The review of this Book prepared by SaxanRG

Chapter Analysis of The Power of One

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Political/social activism    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   racism!!!! Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Parents/lack of parents problem?    -   boarding school! (wack wack!)

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a kid Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   8 () Africa    -   Yes Kind of Africa:    -   Black Africa    -   White Enclave Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee Misc setting    -   prison

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like The Power of One

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