Skip over navigation

The Power of One

Bryce Courtenay

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Sixteen

Summary

The new prison letterwriting affair is to take place on Sunday mornings. Mrs. Boxall promises to speak to Peekay's mother since he is supposed to attend church on Sundays. Peekay's mother-or perhaps the Lord-does not look favorably on the plan. Peekay cannot ask Doc for assistance since Doc's mind is "too logical." He approaches his Granpa instead. Peekay's Granpa suggests to his daughter that if Peekay has access to the inmates of the prison, he can distribute gospel tracts. Peekay's mother falls in love with the idea and immediately gives her permission. She and Marie are delighted with the recognition they are gaining from being "hard-core fighters in the Lord's army." Peekay, however, sticks tobacco leaves inside the religious tracts. These come to be known as "King Georgies" and when the prisoners need more tobacco they write letters to "King Georgie." Borman has begun to complain of piles. Everyone who was present in the gymnasium when Lieutenant Smit confronted Borman knows that he must be under a curse. Borman soon lands in Barberton Hospital, having suffered from a rectal hemorrhage.

Doc, at liberty once again, enjoys a new burst of youth. He and Peekay enjoy their old activities, such as exploring the Barberton hills and "kloofs" (cliffs), searching for species of cacti, or having conversations in Latin. Miss Bornstein has been busy tutoring Peekay for his entrance exams to a fancy private school in Johannesburg, the Prince of Wales School. Peekay receives outstanding results and wins a scholarship to the school. He is to begin in the first term of 1946. Peekay also passes his Royal College of Music Advanced Exams, and wins the Eastern Transvaal under-twelve boxing championship. He becomes the talk of the town, and Mrs. Boxall features him in her weekly newspaper column "Clippings from a Cultured Garden." Peekay's mother's dressmaking business grows as a result. Peekay is anxious that the Prince of Wales School will not offer boxing - but he soon learns that the boxing coach is Mr. Darby White, who was once the cruiserweight champion of the British army.

Peekay's only problem is that his family does not possess enough money to buy him the school clothes that he needs. This dilemma is solved, however, after his mother and Marie pray for God's help. Peekay's friends and family each contribute an article of clothing until he has every item he needs.

Borman dies of a rectal hemorrhage, but only after Marie and Peekay's mother have convinced him to become a born-again Christian. Peekay observes that "Lieutenant Borman died knowing what it felt like to have a donkey prick jammed up your arse until your entrails spill out."

Analysis

Chapter Fifteen provides a conclusion to Book One by summarizing the final events in Peekay's life before he departs for Johannesburg. The tone is overwhelmingly light and optimistic as the older Peekay reports his successes- his brilliant school, boxing, and music accomplishments. The final sentence of the chapter-expressing Peekay's sense of retribution towards Borman-comes as an unexpected shock. The author chooses to close Book One not on Peekay's successes, but on his avenged hatred for the murderer of Geel Piet-the reader is left to mull over the gory image of Borman's rectal hemorrhage, not Peekay's certificates. In such a way, the author reminds the reader that in 1940s South Africa, one cannot take a peaceful period for granted-trouble and violence is an everyday reality and can spring on one suddenly. Peekay shows how Doc and Granpa are foils to one other: Whereas Doc represents the world of logic and rationality, Granpa symbolizes the world of detours and non-sequiturs. Peekay needs both elements in his life, just as he needs both men in his life. Granpa's ingenious plan to help Peekay gain his mother's approval for the letter-writing program represents the first material difference Granpa has made to Peekay's life. Thus, even though Doc has become Peekay's best friend, Peekay still relies on the other people in his life. The love and respect Peekay enjoys from all of those around him culminates at the end of Chapter Fifteen, when everyone comes together to help provide Peekay with the clothes he requires for the Prince of Wales School. Thus, while outlining his path towards becoming a legend-in the eyes of black and white and "colored" South Africans-Peekay acknowledges the great role played by his companions.

More Help

Previous Next
Peekays Analyzing

by FranklinDC, August 25, 2013

After some reflection Peekay realizes that he possesses the "physical and intellectual equipment" needed to survive the school system

Follow Us