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.