Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews September 28, 2023
September 21, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
*See discount terms and conditions.
The Power of One
Author Bryce Courtenay
Type of work Novel
Genre Bildungsroman, popular sports fiction, adventure novel
Time and place written 1980s, Australia
Date of first publication 1989
Publisher William Heinemann Ltd.
The Power of One is narrated by Peekay, the protagonist. Peekay narrates from some point in the future, as an adult looking back on his early childhood and adolescence.
Point of View Peekay narrates in the first person, allowing the reader insight only into his thoughts and feelings. In such a way, the novel often lapses into stream-of- consciousness as Peekay trusts the reader with the ruminations and questions spinning through his mind. Peekay's detailed commentary on boxing games affords the novel a third-person quality at times. Very occasionally the novel takes on an epistolary style through the inclusion of letters to Peekay from various characters.
Tone Peekay's tone towards his younger self is gently ironic as he laughs at his early misunderstandings and misconceptions about the world. As he describes the events of his adolescence, in Book Two and Book Three, his tone becomes less forgiving and he describes the tragedies and comedies of his young manhood with critical distance.
Setting (time) Roughly 1939 to 1951, the World War II period and the beginning of the apartheid era in South Africa
Setting (place) South Africa in Book One and Book Two, Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) in Book Three
Protagonist Peekay, an English-speaking white South African boy
Major conflict After suffering from a traumatic childhood in an Afrikaans boarding school, Peekay struggles throughout the novel to discover and maintain within himself what he refers to as "the power of one" - that is, the independence of spirit that allows one to survive any situation, regardless of how hostile.
Rising action Peekay's anger at the Judge for killing his chicken Granpa Chook, Hoppie Groenewald's introducing Peekay to boxing, Peekay's boxing matches throughout the novel - all of which he wins, Geel Piet's death, Doc's death, Peekay's loss of the Rhodes scholarship, Peekay's near-death accident in the mines
Climax The climax arrives only at the very end of the novel, when seventeen-year-old Peekay comes face-to-face with his childhood nemesis, Jaapie Botha - or simply "the Judge." Botha, who has become temporarily insane from what the miners call a "powderheadache," searches for Peekay in the miners' bar, swearing to kill him.
Falling action In the fight of his life, Peekay retaliates and wins - he leaves Jaapie Botha lying in a pool of blood and vomit on the floor, having carved a Union Jack and his initials over Botha's swastika tattoo. He has avenged Granpa Chook. He leaves the bar to discover that the loneliness birds - which have always haunted him - have gone.
Themes The slow poison of 'apartheid,' the importance of camouflage for survival, the necessary coexistence of logic and magic, the complicated relationship between boxing and fighting
Motifs African osmosis, loneliness birds, fairy tales
Symbols the full moon, the snake, the Tadpole Angel or Onoshobishobi Ingelosi
Foreshadowing Peekay training to become a "spiritual terrorist", his theory of "winning" which is later taken up by sports psychiatrists, Peekay's foresight after his boxing match with Gideon Mandoma as to the atrocities that will occur in South Africa, Peekay's escape from the mining accident
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Power of One!