This I Believe Prompt

While reviewing the essay The Power of Self-Preservation by Hugo Haas, I got an insight on Haas’s point of view on the world. He reflected on his experience when the Nazis took over, and how he lost some loved ones, effecting him in a negative way. He believes that above all of the bad situations one might be put in, one must never give up on himself or herself. “First of all, I learned to believe in the tremendous power of life itself and in the power of self-preservation.” He said he never gave up on himself, and he always had a drive to succeed. He expresses his views on the joy of creation, beauty present in all things, friendship eliminating loneliness, and love being the strongest element in life. 

In Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, the main character Peekay becomes determined and motivated early in life. Hoppie, one of Peekay’s mentors, teaches Peekay to always believe in himself. “I had hope. I had witnessed small triumph over big. I was not powerless.” (98) This motivation and hopefulness stays with Peekay and finally shows during a boxing match between Peekay and a boy much bigger than him. “They had to give me a go. I had to fight Kroon…I could take him, I knew I could take him.” (249) Peekay has faith that he will win, just like Haas was always motivated and never gave up. Haas says, “…I never lost the drive to go on, even in situations of hopelessness and despair,” meaning that no matter what the situation, Haas always strived to go on. Both of these characters never gave up on themselves, against all odds. Haas also says, “I believe in love…For love is the strongest element that in the final analysis, fulfils our life.” Peekay, in the end when he is leaving for a new school, realizes that love is what is going to help him carry on in his life. “In teaching me independence of thought, they had given me the greatest gift an adult can give to a child besides love, and they had given me that also.” (315) 

I can relate to this essay by Haas, because I once gave up and did not have faith in myself. Several years ago, I was trying out for a sports team and before even going into tryouts, thought I was not going to make it. I thought there were too many people, I would not stand out, and the coaches would not see anything special in me. I gave up because I thought that in this particular situation, I had no chance of making it. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way, for that year I did not make the team, and I realized afterwards that I had to believe in myself for me to perform well and succeed, helping me in the years to come. Like Haas, I believe that the key ingredient to success is motivation and having faith in yourself, no matter what

Power of One Ch. 7-9 Prompt

In the novel, The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay illustrates that having someone to guide another can really influence that person and shape his or her views on the world. On the train ride home, Peekay meets several new characters that he begins to look up to, even though he has not known these people very long. Hoppie, the train guard, is the first person Peekay encounters on his journey. Hoppie repeatedly tells Peekay in the short time they spend together, that even though the odds might be against Peekay, he should always remember this saying, “ ‘First with the head and then with the heart, that’s how a man stays ahead from the start.’ ” (103) He gives Peekay hope that no matter what the circumstance is, even if there is absolutely no chance that Peekay will win, it is always possible. “I had known him a little over twenty-four hours, yet he had managed to change my life. He had given me the power of one – one idea, one heart, one mind, one plan, one determination…He gave me a defense system, and with it he gave me hope.” (103) By meeting Hoppie, Peekay begins to grow up and mature, but he still has this innocence. Hoppie is the first one who starts to influence Peekay’s identity, by telling him he has the power of one, but at the same time, Peekay still wants to blend in and be camouflaged. 

After Hoppie leaves Peekay, he is watched over by Big Hettie, the second person who starts to influence Peekay. Peekay still believes that camouflage is the only way to survive, but when Big Hettie says, “ ‘Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it,’ ”(115) it slowly starts to sink into his mind that it is okay to stand out. Peekay does not understand what all of this means now, as he is only six years old, however, conversations like these will influence Peekay later on in his life. When Doc, or Professor von Vollensteen starts to teach Peekay, he also says that it is much better to be different, and not follow the crowd, even if he is wrong. “ ‘Always listen to yourself, Peekay. It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something, and you will grow stronger.’ ”(157) This is against Peekay’s ideas of blending in, but all of these mentors who tell Peekay to be different are slowly influencing him, even if he does not realize it.

Power of One Ch. 4-6 Prompt

Through the characterization of Peekay, Bryce Courtenay expresses in the novel, The Power of One, that blending in does not strengthen a person, but power comes from someone who is motivated, determined, and stable, no matter who or what that person is up against. The main character, Peekay, struggles with fitting in, especially at boarding school. He believes that if he is camouflaged and does not stick out in any way, all the torment he receives will end. He says, “Mediocrity is the best camouflage known to man,” (30) meaning he wants to be ordinary, and regular, not the exemplary student he really is. On the other hand, even though Peekay likes the idea of being common, standard, and nothing more, he believes that one needs to be unique on the inside, just not on the outside. For Peekay, this is where the power of the individual comes into play. “…- how I learned that 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.” (20) Peekay only wants to be different on the inside, however in reality, to be a strong-minded person, he or she needs to be independent and unique both inside and out. When a person has a mind that is individualistic, and he or she is not trying to be just ordinary, that person will have power, in any circumstance. 

An example of a strong-minded person is Hoppie Groenewald, one of Peekay’s allies. Hoppie, a welterweight boxer and train guard and conductor, teaches Peekay that he should always stick up for himself, no matter who he is up against. “I had hope. I had witnessed small triumph over big. I was not powerless.” (98) This ties into the idea of the power of one, that power does not come in numbers or sizes, but in the person, in the individual.

Power of One Ch. 1-3 Prompt

In the novel, The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay illustrates through the characterization of the Judge and jury that it is easy to follow the crowd and draw conclusions about another without fully knowing him or her just because of the person’s background, or where he or she comes from. It is unchallenging to make assumptions of another because a certain group of people told one to think a certain way or believe certain things. The Judge and the jury all hate and torment Pisskop because he is a rooinek, or an Englishmen in a Dutch boarding school. This novel is set during the war between the English and Dutch over land in South Africa, so the Dutch kids in the school naturally hate the English. The Judge and the jury do not know Pisskop for who he really is, but they all hate him because he is English and on top of that, the jury follows in the footsteps of the Judge, believing what the Judge tells them. “To the boys at school, I was the first live example of the congenital hate they carried for my kind.” (3) The fact that this boy already knows that people will hate him illustrates that people are prejudiced towards others because of the person’s background. “ ‘This tattoo means death and destruction to all rooineks. And you, Pisskop, are going to be the first.’ ” (23) The Judge and jury assume that Pisskop is a dirty rooinek that needs to be killed, and they do not even know him. 

In the second chapter of the book, Pisskop accepts a chicken from the greatest medicine man in Africa, Inkosi-Inkosikazi. Pisskop takes the chicken with him when he returns to boarding school, and this companionship helps Pisskop get through all the torment he receives from the Judge and jury. “Finally it became clear that the toughest damn chicken in the whole wide world had no intention of deserting his friend, even if his own life was at stake.” (27-28) Pisskop understands that his chicken is there for him and that he is going to help him get through all of his tough times, including when Judge picks on Pisskop. The author elaborates on the friendship of Granpa Chook and Pisskop because he wants to display the type of friendship where a person is not judging another, but respecting him or her for who he or she is. However, in this novel, judgments are made without even knowing the person, leading to even more hatred and violence in that area.