Monday, February 28, 2011

The Power of One: Chapter 17

1. The Power of One Chapter 17 pgs. 349-378

2. In this chapter, the reader can find that Peekay and Morrie’s friendship is growing each day. Peekay and Morrie have created a bank where they work out their bets with the other boys at the school and sometimes boys from different schools. The success of Peekay’s boxing had spread and a larger number of people were showing up to his fights each time. The People made up a fraction of the crowd and their chanting and singing helped Peekay to win his fights. When Peekay is fourteen, he is going through puberty and all he can think about is “doing it.” His weekly letters from Miss Bornstein became a disturbance in history class because he and Morrie were constantly correcting and opposing whatever “Mango” Cobett had said. Being in the third form, the boys were eligible to become one of the six of Sinjun’s People, and they both had a spot as one of the people. Unknowingly, Peekay and Morrie had helped each other to gain their spots as Sinjun’s People. 

3)  a. Morrie Levy
b. “To have done the things you’ve done, led the life you’ve led? Believe me, being rich, in a Jewish household anyway, isn’t a lot of fun. Everything is overdone. Too much love, too much money, too much food, too much care, too much reminding you that you’re different, that you’re Jewish.”
c. Morrie is:
d. Morrie was the first person Peekay met when he started going to the Prince of Wales School. He is a Jewish boy who is interested in gambling and making money. In the chapter sixteen Morrie said to Peekay, “You see, you’re different. I know that now. And I’m certainly different, I always have been, but being a Jew at a school like this makes me even more so. I reckon we’ll need each other.” Ever since then Morrie and Peekay were best friends and so far they have helped one another in many ways. For example, when Peekay had messed up Cooper’s cream bun Morrie helped by first offering to pay for another one; instead, he helped Peekay arrange the cream and escape being in trouble. In chapter seventeen it is easier to see that Peekay and Morrie have become partners in crime because of the many things they experience together such as boxing, The Bank, “According to Miss Bornstein,” and Sinjun’s People.

4. The quote I found meaningful was, “The power of one was based on the courage to remain separate, to think through to the truth, and not to be beguiled by convention or the plausible arguments of those who expect to maintain power.” What made it stand out was that Peekay had another explanation of the power of one. He is saying that the power of one is being able to be yourself and independent instead of succumbing to someone who is trying to be superior than you. This is just like the saying of how it is better to be a leader and not a follower. The quote is important to the chapter because Peekay is growing up and learning what it is like to be more on his own and independent. He had realized that he is now being given the choice to do what he wants and to dream whatever he feels like dreaming about. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Athlete of God; The Power of One: Ch 12-15

The essay I listened to was “An Athlete of God” by Martha Graham. She tells the listener about how dance may seem easy, but there are a lot of things that dancers must go through to actually look the way they do. Martha Graham opens her essay with the line, “I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing, or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.” She is saying that a person may not get anywhere or will not succeed without practicing. She symbolizes living with performing and dancing; the comparison is joined by one thing, the human body. Dance speaks through a dancers body while life occurs also in the body. Martha Graham states that dancers must train for many years for their bodies to be accustomed to the movement. “The body is shaped, disciplined, honored, and in time, trusted. The movement becomes clean, precise, eloquent, truthful.” After a dancer has trained and has become mature enough, that is when their true personality is shown in their dancing. “It is at this point that sweep of life catches up the mere personality of the performer, and while the individual-the undivided one-becomes greater, the personal life becomes less personal.” She then says that dancers can notice small details in the things they do and that they are then aware of the beauty of the art. Although dance is takes a lot of hard work and dedication, in the end it is a wonderful sight to see. This is why Martha Graham calls dancers, “athletes of God.”
“An Athlete of God” relates to The Power of One because Martha Graham’s love for dance is just like Peekay’s passion for boxing. After Peekay had won the boxing final he said, “It was the power of one stirring in me, nothing Lieutenant Smit said could dampen my spirits. I jumped down from the ring feeling ten feet tall.” This explains the feeling one may get after they achieved something great, whether it be a boxing match, a dance performance, or even a goal someone has set for their self. It is also related to how Doc had accomplished playing the “Concerto of the Great Southland” and Chopin’s Nocturne Number Five. Martha Graham, Peekay, and Doc all had made great accomplishments with a lot of practice. Martha Graham said, “Practice means to perform over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” Peekay had trained in the field of boxing for two years before his first fight. When Doc knew that he had to perform  for the brigadier, he began practicing Chopin’s nocturne; when the time came to perform the piece, Doc played the nocturne perfectly. Martha Graham’s idea that the love of dance will come to the dancer after hard work is directly related to the piece of advice that Hoppie gave Peekay. Peekay will never forget the words given to him, “First with the head and then with the heart.”
Being a dancer, I can genuinely relate to all of the points Martha Graham makes in her essay. In the essay she says, “It takes about ten years to make a mature dancer.” I have just completed my eleventh year of dancing, and I still believe that I have not learned everything I need to know about dance. As a dancer, it takes a lot of time and dedication in life to do well when I perform. It is not easy to always be in a studio, dancing the night away while my friends are at the mall or hanging out somewhere else. Along with the commitment, a dancer can never be sure if they will stay healthy throughout their career. Like Martha Graham says, “But the path to the paradise of that achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration. There are daily small deaths.” I have experienced all of these episodes. Lately, to me, dance has been hard to deal with. For the past two weeks I constantly found myself angry or frustrated during rehearsals. This is because I have a very important ballet competition coming up this weekend on Saturday, February 26, 2011. My friends and I have been working for months to technically perfect our dances. This past week we ran our dances in front of the director at our school, and the only thing she tells us is that we have done really well in the technique of the dances but now we need to show our personality. It is difficult to bring out a part of yourself that you have never expressed before. We have run out of time to clean things up in our dances, and now it is time to show our love for dance. “And there is grace. I mean the grace resulting from in life, in love, in people, in the act of dancing. All this is necessary to any performance in life which is magnetic, powerful, rich in meaning.” I have worked hard and long in dance and now it is time for me to express that hard work and the love of the art.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Power of One: Chapters 7-9

With the characterization of Peekay, Bryce Courtenay presents in the novel The Power of One that it is helpful to have friends and elders to guide someone in their life. The mentors in Peekay’s life have all helped him in different aspects of life. All of these people have given him simple words of advice on how he can be successful in the future. His first main mentor is Hoppie Groenewald who told him, “First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stays ahead from the start.” This means that a person must have the knowledge of how they will encounter a problem and then have a passion to continue and persevere. Peekay says, “He had given me the power of one-one idea, one , one mind, one plan, one determination. Hoppie had sensed my need to grow, my need to be assured that the world around me had not been specially arranged to bring about my undoing. He gave me a defense system, and with it he gave me hope.” This demonstrates the fact that Hoppie had only been with Peekay for a short time, but he taught him a lot about the power of one person.
Another mentor that Peekay learned from was Big Hettie. She had accompanied Peekay on his journey to his grandpa’s house. When he asked her about where hate in a person comes from, she told him that many people have pride and courage. Peekay did not know what pride was, so he asked Big Hettie and she said, “Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.” She reminded him of these words the moment she was dying. Big Hettie had also said to Peekay, “You will be a great fighter, I know it.” Peekay tries to remember the thoughtful words his mentors give him, so eventually he will remember Big Hettie’s advice if he decides to become a fighter. The last mentor is Professor Karl von Vollensteen, but to Peekay he is known as Doc. Doc is a professor that asked for Peekay to join him on searches, and in exchange, Peekay will receive piano lessons. Doc is one of his mentors because he teaches Peekay how to play the piano and gives him knowledge about nature and humans. Doc tells Peekay, “Your brain, Peekay, has two functions; it is a place for original thought, but also it is a reference library. Use it to tell you where to look, and you will have for yourself all the brains that have ever been.” This is telling Peekay that all of the knowledge he will need in life is not in other people but in himself. 
The people that have made the most influence on Peekay’s life are not the ones who stay in his life for an eternity, but they are the people that Peekay is with for a short time. They learn his personality quickly and have the perfect advice to give him that he will always remember. Peekay remembers these people for what they said to him and the impact they had on his life. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Power of One: Chapters 4-6

In the novel The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay displays through the characterization of Peekay and Hoppie Groenewald that with the help of friends and “the power of one,” anyone can defeat who or whatever they choose. Peekay says he learned that the power of one is, “In each of us there burns a flame of independence that must never be allowed to go out. That as long as it exists within us we cannot be destroyed.” On his way to Barberton where his grandfather lives, Peekay meets a man named Hoppie Groenewald. Hoppie is a boxer and a guard on the train that Peekay is taking, and he becomes a mentor and one of his closest allies. Throughout the train ride, Hoppie looks after Peekay and takes good care of him. He makes sure Peekay gets good food to eat and does not make him pay for the food he eats. “‘You finish it. It will spoil my appetite for my mixed grill. You’re still going to have a mixed grill with me, aren’t you? I mean, I’m paying and all that.’” Hoppie also helps to be a good friend to Peekay. When he asked about how it would be for him to fight with the Judge, Hoppie says, “‘Who you want to fight, hey? What big kid gave you a bad time? Just you tell me, Peekay, and he’ll have to reckon with Hoppie Groenewald. I’m telling you, man, nobody hurts a friend of mine.’” Peekay learned a lot from Hoppie at the boxing match against Jackhammer Smit. When they first meet Jackhammer, he never stops taking badly to Hoppie and how their sizes do not compare. After Hoppie had defeated Jackhammer Smit, Peekay said, “It seemed certain now that small could beat big, all it took was brains and skill and heart and a play. A perfect plan.” He also says, “It was the greatest moment of my life. I had hope. I had witnessed small triumph over big. I was not powerless.” These relate to the problems Peekay had with the Judge and the jury at his boarding school. There sizes were much different which meant that they could easily beat Peekay. He learned from Hoppie Groenewald that size does not matter, but what matters is that a person should always be thinking and that everyone can overcome something if they have “the power of one” inside of them. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Power of One: Chapters 1-3

In the novel “The Power of One,” Bryce Courtenay displays through the characterization of Pisskop that it is not right to punish others for the actions of other people. Pisskop is the main character in the story; he is hated by the Judge and jury because he is English and they are Dutch. In South Africa the English were known as Rooineks, and the Dutch were called Boers or Afrikaners. The hatred of Pisskop comes from when the Dutch and English fought the Anglo-Boer War.”I spoke the language that had pronounced the sentences that had killed their grandfathers and sent their grandmothers to the world’s first concentration camps, where they had died like flies from dysentery, malaria, and blackwater fever.” Pisskop is the only English boy in his school full of Dutch boys, so the Boers decided that he would be an easy target. “The Boer War had created great malevolent feelings against the English, who were called rooineks. It was a hate that had entered the Afrikaner bloodstream and pocked the hearts and minds of the next generation. To the boys at school, I was the first live example of the congenital hate they carried for my kind.” 
To deal with the cruelty of the Judge and jury, Pisskop tries to camouflage. Throughout the first three chapters he is constantly saying how camouflaging would get him through until the end of the term. He said, “Mediocrity is the best camouflage known to man,” and “it became increasingly hard for the other kids to think of me as being different when no visible or audible differences separated us. Except, of course, for my hatless snake; but even this, like a kid with a birthmark or a little finger missing, started to go unnoticed. I was becoming the perfect stick insect.” At times, things go wrong and Pisskop’s camouflage disappears for a while. Examples of this are when he tells the doctor that his shoulder hurt from hitting the wall and when he recited times tables that they had not learned in class yet. Another way to deal with the cruelty was to tell his chicken, Granpa Chook, about everything that had happened, and Granpa Chook was there for Pisskop whenever he needed a friend. “I was constantly fearful for Granpa Chook, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Like me, he was a prisoner of war. Together we just had to hope for the best and try to muddle through.” 
The lesson that Bryce Courtenay wants readers to learn about human cruelty and prejudice is that something could have happened generations before a person was born and that person treats others badly for what the actions of their ancestors. People may not be the direct cause of a problem, but just because they are who they are does not mean they are the same as those who have done wrong.