In the novel, The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay exhibits through the characterization of Peekay that one person may learn more from either their positive experiences in life or their negative experiences. Throughout Peekay’s life, he learns more from the negative experiences than anything else. For example, Peekay’s first main lesson comes from his year at boarding school with the Judge and Mevrou. He was different than the anyone else at the school because he was English and they were Afrikaner. At the beginning of his time at school Peekay had said, “More serious trouble lay ahead of me for sure. I was a rooinek and a pisskop. I spoke the wrong language. And now I was obviously made differently. But I was still alive, and in my book, where there’s life, there’s hope.” The torture Peekay received helped him to become stronger in the future, and this is what was influencing him to become a better boxer. Compared to the Judge Peekay was just a small boy; he was usually smaller than the people he faced in the boxing ring, and he was determined that small could beat big.
Another great influence in Peekay’s life was losing the people that meant the most to him. This includes Nanny, Hoppie, Big Hettie, Geel Piet, Doc, and Rasputin. Losing all of these people meant a lot to Peekay because he no longer had a mentor or a friend in his situations. When Hoppie left, Peekay says, “I was distressed at having left the best friend after Granpa Chook and Nanny that I had ever had, without so much as a good-bye. Hoppie had passed briefly through my life, like a train passing in the night. I had known him a little over twenty-four hours, yet he had managed to change my life.” After meeting Hoppie, Peekay decided that he was going to be the next welterweight champion of the world. He was upset that he no longer had Hoppie in his life, but after that he was determined to reach his goal. After Peekay lost all of these people in his life, he was determined to achieve greater things, to become a better person, to reach the power of one.
Although Peekay had his share of both positive and negative experiences, the negative experiences are what shaped his life more drastically. Without the bad things that happened to him, he would not have tried to make things better in his life. Peekay always benefitted from his negative experiences and this is why they had influenced his life more. He found the power of one in himself and built up all of the his experiences to become the man he had become.