Study Guide

The Power of One Religion

By Bryce Courtenay


Even though the protagonist is a staunch nonbeliever, religion plays a big part in shaping his life. His mother recovers from a nervous breakdown by joining a strict Christian church, which limits Peekay's contact with other sectors of society. It also divides him from the African traditions he grew up with, personified by his Nanny, who is sent away for being a heathen and refusing to convert. Religion is put at odds with rational thinking and observation in The Power of One, and is also portrayed as propping up racist structures.

Questions About Religion

  1. Why do you think that Peekay's mother finds religion so comforting? And why is it so hard for Peekay to accept?
  2. What are the differences between Doc's version of God and Peekay's mother's?
  3. What is religion's relationship to racism in the novel?

Chew on This

Religion is portrayed as a way for the weaker characters in the novel to gain strength, even if it is from an illusion.

Religion is portrayed as a force of evil, one that perpetuates racism and injustice.