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The Power of one - Bryce Courtenays Novel

Essay by   •  June 20, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,509 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,981 Views

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The division one

"The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay gives readers a clear insight to the tensions of South Africa" - writes Kim Collett.

Bryce Courtenays novel 'The Power of One' was much based on his own life experiences. Courtenay was born in the year of 1933 in South Africa and was raised with black South Africans in an isolated home in the middle of the Lebombo mountains. Like Peekay, he was sent to a boarding school at a young age which was a mixture of different cultured children. Like Peekay, he learned to box in order to survive and his Character Peekay also follows in many other paths as Bryce Courtenay did himself. The apartheid era had just begun when 'The Power of One' is set, even tho white supremacy had been around many years before this. The Power of One represents the many problems that the people of South Africa experienced during the Apartheid Era not in an upfront manner, but Courtenay trys to recreate, through Peekay's perspective, the inadequate understanding that even the South Africans had of apartheid during its inception.

In the 1680's Dutch, French and Germans fled religious persecution in Europe and settled in Southern Africa. They called themselves the Afrikaners -- White Africans. For the next 250 years the British Empire fought the Afrikaners for control of the land, the gold, and 20 million native Africans. In 1948 a conservative Afrikaner government was voted into power. A system of racial segregation and discrimination was installed as the law of the land. The Afrikaners called this system apartheid. The novel sees Peekay as the main character. His attitude towards different cultures does not vary from race to race unless an individual gives him a reason or purpose too, for example The Judge (Jaapie Botha) is Peekay's nemesis throughout the novel. From the very beginning of the novel when Peekay is sent away to boarding school and the war between Britain and Germany was announced The Judge and his followers bashed and bullied Peekay while he was young. Peekay is the type of character who values friendship, trust and a healthy education.

Jaapie Botha is a teenage Afrikaner who believes Hitler is going to visit South Africa and drive all the English into the sea and that he all the younger Afrikaners are his Nazi Storm Troopers. Jaapie has a very aggressive attitude toward all English, but Peekay in particular as he is young weak and vulnerable in the beginning. The Power of One slowly seeps the idea of Apartheid into the story through certain chapters. Chapter 4, page 52 "At the far end of the verandah there was a second entrance to the shop. Above was written 'Blacks only'. I wondered briefly why whites were not allowed to enter" this is just an example of how Courtenay slowly filled Peekays conscious of the sense of Apartheid.

The cultural perspectives of the Afrikaners are similar to the English. Both the Afrikaners and English are attempting to over throw one another and the Native Africans for power in South Africa. This leaves huge conflict between all three cultures and racism perspectives are drawn from each, this racism is between cultures is shown outrageously for the first time in the first chapter on page 3 as the Judge and his friends urinated on Peekay. The Afrikaner culture is descended from almost an even number of German, French and Dutch settlers, whose native tongue is Afrikaans. This language is Germanic and derives from a Dutch dialect. Now obviously if we wanted to learn

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