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Monday, February 7, 2011

The Power of One: Ch. 1-3

In the novel, The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay illustrates through the behavior of the Judge, jury, and Pisskop, that people may have harsh prejudices, but the right camouflage can serve as protection. The Judge announces, “God has sent us this sign from Adolf Hitler, who will deliver the Afrikaner people from the hated English! ”The Judge and jury hate Pisskop because he is English. The source of this hatred is the Boer War. The Judge and jury are on Adolf Hitler’s side of the war, which is against the English. So, the Judge and jury treat Pisskop with disrespect, and they torture him.

Pisskop deals with this cruelty through camouflage. He says, “Mediocrity is the best camouflage known to man.” Pisskop tries his best to not stand out by acting dumber than he actually is in school, and minding his own business. He does not want to give the people anything else about him to hate. Sometimes his cover is blown, and it may be a good thing, or bad. He gets into trouble when his teacher finds out he actually knows all the times tables and has been pretending not to, and that incident ends up bloody; but the lack of camouflage turns out to be a good thing when he develops an agreement with the Judge to do his homework everyday so he can pass.

The lesson that the author most likely wants readers to learn about the nature of human cruelty and prejudice is that people hold grudges on others simply because they are of a certain descent. Pisskop was born in Africa; he didn’t even know he was English, or at least he forgot when he said, “I’ll swear too,” and the Judge replied, “Don’t be stupid, Pisskop! You ARE the verdomde English!” The fact that the Judge and jury discriminated against innocent Pisskop only because he was English, when Pisskop has had nothing to do with the English except his ancestors, shows how cluelessly cruel people can be.

-Maggie Holland

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