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Important Quotes from Freak the Mighty

Instructor: Susan Nagelsen

Susan has directed the writing program in undergraduate colleges, taught in the writing and English departments, and criminal justice departments.

''Freak the Mighty'' by Rodman Philbrick gives us the opportunity to experience what it means to be different. We get to spend a life-altering year with Max and Kevin, and we are changed.

Background

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have incredible power? In Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, two boys gain strength by joining forces in friendship. Kevin has a mega brain, but he is crippled and sick. Max is a big, brawny guy who has been made to feel dumb because he has learning disabilities. Together they are a force that cannot be stopped.

Max tells the story of how he and Kevin, or Freak as he calls him, come together to be known as Freak the Mighty. What might have been a story seen as a tragedy -- with tragic characters, a murder, a kidnapping, and a death-- is instead an experience that makes us feel good in the end.

Freak the Mighty
Freak the Mighty

Loneliness

Max and Kevin both suffer from loneliness and isolation because they have been ridiculed and made to feel different at school. Each handles their feelings in different ways.

Max spends a lot of time in his basement, or ''down under,'' as he refers to it. Here he is able to avoid questions. In ''his space'' he is free to be himself.

''I like it in the down under, got the place all to myself and no fear of Gram sticking her head in the door and saying Maxwell dear, what are you doing?''

Max has had a difficult life. When he was four years old he saw his father kill his mother. After that he lived in his grandparents' basement. When things get rough his instinct is to run away.

''I've already decided I'll run away if they do that, I'll go live in the woods somewhere and jump out and scare people.''

Max's dad is a very bad guy; in fact, they call him ''Killer Kane.'' He used his abusive, bullying tactics to keep Max's mom terrified and under his thumb. Max learns that Kevin's mother, Gwen, was one of his mom's friends. She tells him, ''I never saw much of your mom after they got married. He made it … difficult for your mother to have any friends.''

Appearances

Max gives us a description of Freak, and it is a description that is matter-of-fact. It is not unkind; Max gives just the facts as he sees them. We can clearly see him, and we can tell that he is a strong character who isn't easily pushed around.

''There's this weird-looking little dude, he's got a normal-sized head, but the rest of him is shorter than a yardstick and kind of twisted in a way that means he can't stand up straight and makes his chest puff out, and he's waving his crutches around and yelling at the movers.''

When Gwen firsts sees Max, now that he is older, she is stunned by the way he looks. Freak tells her she's being weird. Then he says to Max, ''What she means is, you're a spitting image of your old man.''

Max hates being reminded that he looks like his father, the man who is in prison for killing his mom.

Grim, his grandfather, wonders whether he will act like his father too.

''It's more than just the way Maxwell resembles him, Grim says that night in the kitchen, the boy is like him, we'd better watch out, you never know what he might do while we're sleeping.''

Friendship

When Max and Kevin join forces, they become Freak the Mighty, and they are an amazing duo. Together they become one powerful person who can take on all comers. Friendship makes them stronger than they ever imagined.

''Freak is still holding tight to my shoulders and when they ask him for his name, he says, 'We're Freak the Mighty, that's who we are.'''

Max's grandfather understands that what he needs most is a friend. He argues that teachers haven't been able to fill the void, and neither have he and Gram.

''Let's give it a try, nothing else has worked, maybe what he needs is a friend, that's the one thing he's never had with all those special teachers.''

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