Study Guide

The Power of One Plot Analysis

By Bryce Courtenay

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Kids These Days…

Peekay is sent to boarding school, where a mean kid named the Judge, who is a Nazi (complete with a swastika tattoo), tortures him mercilessly. He calls Peekay "pisskop," or pisshead, and a kindly storekeeper shortens it to Peekay, which sticks. This sets Peekay up as the little guy, who will always have a desire to get back at the big bully. 

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

May He Cluck in Peace

Peekay's pet chicken and best friend, Granpa Chook, accompanies him to school for his second year. After a rocky start, Granpa Chook is put on bug patrol in the kitchen (every chicken's dream job) and things start to look up. Unfortunately, on the last day of school, when the Judge and his gang of goons try to make Peekay eat human feces (gross), Granpa Chook poops right in the Judge's mouth (righteous), but his punishment is to be hanged from a tree and shot to death with slingshots. This will be the kernel of conflict for the rest of Peekay's life.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Six-year-old Peekay decides to never again be made to feel less, and he mourns Granpa Chook's death on his way home to a new town, where his mother and grandpa have moved while he was at school. On the train he meets Hoppie Groenewald, the boxing champion of the railways, who tells him all about being a fighter, and shows him that in a fight that little can beat big. This inspires Peekay to aim to become the welterweight champion of the world. Dream big, kid. 

Falling Action

Started From the Bottom

Peekay becomes a real Renaissance man. He trains at the town prison with a team, then heads to an elite boarding school, where he is not only boxing and rugby champion, but also an excellent student and businessman. However, he misses out on a Rhodes scholarship and decides to work for a year to save for college. We're not worried about him anymore, and things seem to be leading up to his winning at life.

Resolution (Denouement)

Gruesome, Yet Warm and Fuzzy at the Same Time

Peekay heads up north to work in the copper mines, and after a terrible accident finds himself in a fight with a much bigger, and really cuckoo man. The man has a swastika tattoo, and Peekay realizes that he's the Judge all these years later. Peekay beats the snot out of the Judge and also redecorates his tattoo, making it into a British flag with the letters "PK" carved into the middle. All of his training led him to beat his former tormenter, and everything is tied up into a neat package.