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Killer Kane in Freak the Mighty

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Kenny Kane, also known as the notorious Killer Kane, is in prison for much of the Rodman Philbrick novel, 'Freak the Mighty,' but he manages to get out in time to cause some trouble. In this lesson, we will learn more about Killer Kane.

Killer Kane is in Prison

In the Rodman Philbrick novel, Freak the Mighty, Kenny Kane, or Killer Kane as he is called by the people in the community, is in prison for the murder of his wife. The narrator, Max, is their child and he's been placed in the home of his grandparents, Grim and Gram. For most of the story, Killer Kane is in prison and we only hear about him through the townspeople, but by the end of the story, Max meets him again. Has prison changed him?

Killer Kane is in prison.
prison

References and Quotes About Killer Kane

While Max probably remembers more than he lets on, Max doesn't talk about his father much. As a result, we learn about Kenny Kane through vague references from other characters in the book. At one point, Max overhears Grim and Gram talking about Kane, but they don't even call him by name.

  • Max said, 'Which is the way he (Grim) always talked about my father, who married his dear departed daughter and produced, eek eek, Maxwell. Grim never says my father's name, just Him, like his name is too scary to say.'

Obviously Grim and Gram don't think much of Kenny Kane and fear that Max is going to turn out just like him.

  • '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.'

When the police pull Kevin and Max out of the millpond after being chased by Tony D.'s gang, people in the crowd comment that Max is Killer Kane's kid. In English class, the kids chant, 'Killer Kane, Killer Kane, got a kid who has no brain' at Max when he refuses to get up and speak in front of the class. Even though, up to this point, Kenny Kane has been in jail for most of Max's life, Max has had to deal with being the son of a murderer. After all, everyone in the community knows what Kane did.

There is Always Someone Scarier Than You!

After Max and Kevin find and return a purse belonging to Loretta Lee, wife of Iggy Lee, motorcycle gang leader, Loretta places Max as Killer Kane's kid. Loretta has heard that Killer Kane found God while in prison. Loving to stir up trouble, she tries to get Iggy to rough Max up a bit.

  • 'She pokes Iggy or tickles him and in this strange giggly voice she says, 'Whyn't you find out? Find out if he's as strong as he looks?''

Fortunately for Max, this big, strong, scary gang member is not about to mess with Killer Kane's kid. Later, when Killer Kane takes Max to Iggy and Lee's home looking for a hideout, it is apparent that Iggy is terrified of Kane because he acts extremely nervous around him.

Killer Kane Gets Paroled

On Christmas Eve, soon after being paroled, Kane sneaks into Max's room in the middle of the night and kidnaps Max. The first thing he does is try to convince Max that Grim and Gram are to blame.

  • Killer Kane said, 'They hated me from first sight. On account of my appearance, and because I wasn't good enough for their precious daughter. As if a man should be blamed for how fearsome he looks, when in fact he's a truly loving person inside.'

Since being judged by his appearance is something Max has struggled with, this is a pretty good strategy to use with him.

  • Killer Kane said, 'First thing, like I already said, I never killed anybody. I'm big like you're big, so folks assume things they shouldn't. You understand what I'm saying?'

Then, Kane works on trying to turn Max against Grim and Gram. Would this strategy have worked a year ago?

  • 'I bet they haven't even missed you,' Killer Kane says. 'Kept you down in that cellar like an animal, how would they know?'
  • 'Now, your grandparents say you're nothing but a dysfunctional retard, but no kin of mine is a retard, and that's a fact.'

Kane tries everything he can think of to get Max to think of him as the victim.

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