in Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One, how does boxing represent a constant theme throughout the book?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, let me say that I'm thrilled that you're reading this book--it's one of my favorites. In answer to your question, boxing plays a literal and figurative part in the novel.  Literally, Peekay (the novel's protagonist) excels in boxing even though he starts out life as a lonely, bullied English child in a mostly Afrikaan boarding school.  Additionally, Peekay, a white child, finds common ground with Gideon, a black African, in boxing, and as friends and boxing competitors they represent what South Africa could be.

Figuratively, boxing symbolizes Peekay's constant struggle in life.  While he is somehow able to remain optimistic and generous in spirit despite his difficulties, he must box or fight his way through everything.  He often depends on others to form his self-identity and struggles almost to the very end of the book to discover his own power within.  He is his own best-matched sparring partner.