“The young man is a genius,” Grim is saying. “And I dont use that word lightly.” (15.28)
Freak is a freak for robotics and engineering, of course, but hes also a word nerd—just like Shmoop. And how exactly does Freak know so many words? Simple: he reads. He loves reading and words so much that he actually makes his own personal dictionary. Think were exaggerating? Check out the appendix of the book to see what were talking about.
Lucky for Max, Freak isnt the evil genius type. No, hes a benevolent leader and is willing to share his massive intellect with Max. And as much as Max has trouble learning, Freak seems to change that: “If I dont know, then Freak will tell me and hell say it in a way I can understand” (13.5), he says.
The Best Things Come in Small Packages
In fact, Freak is a tiny little guy compared to his massive intellect. Just like Max has to deal with looking like his dad, Freak is also judged by his appearance.
Freak is only about three feet tall, and he has to walk with crutches. As a result, people continually underestimate him and feel sorry for him. Even Max originally describes Freak as a “crippled-up yellow haired midget” (2.8). Not exactly the nicest thing to say about your friend.
But unlike Max, Freak doesnt let it bother him. He ignores the stares and comments and continues to be the person he wants to be: going on quests, dressing up like Darth Vader, and treating the world like one big adventure.
Why do you think Max and Freak have such different reactions to the way the world views them?
While Max is content to while away the hours staring into space or “drooling over comics,” Freak is all about carpe diem: seize the day. And Max goes along with it because its more fun than being alone in the down under:
Each and every morning the little dude humps himself over and he bangs on the bulkhead […] “Get outta bed, you lazy beast! There are fair maidens to rescue! Dragons to slay!” (8.18)
Could it be that Freak is so intent on living life to the fullest because he doesnt have very much life left to live? Freak knows hes sick, but hes still the most hopeful character in the novel. He creates his own world in which instead of dying, hes just waiting for a robotic transplant. His world is so convincing, in fact, that Max never thinks to question it (even though he has questioned Freaks other stories: “Treasure in the sewer? What kind of quest is this, huh? Is Freak completely making this up or what?” [10.28]).
Why is Freaks story so convincing to Max, a character who seems to have lost all hope?
Loretta recognizes Max from when he was a child and, after some questioning, she and Iggy learn that Max is the son of the infamous murderer Kenny “Killer” Kane, who brutally murdered Maxs mother by starngling her to death when Max was around 4 years old (That is the reason why Max lives with Grim and Gram), and a old friend of Iggys from prison. Afterward, the two boys help each other out with Kevin acting as Maxs brain, and Max acting as Kevins legs by carrying him around everywhere on his shoulders. One day, Kevin showed Max where hed be rehabilitated at a research center. Kevin said hed be the first one and that hed be just like a robot.
On Christmas Eve, Max is kidnapped by his father (James Gandolfini), who has recently been released from prison on parole. Max is taken to Lorettas home by Kane, who tries to strangle Loretta after she attempts to help Max escape. This leads to Max remembering when Kane murdered Maxs mother, which was one of the reasons why Kane went to prison in the first place.
An angered Killer Kane attempts to attack Kevin. Max reacts and attacks his own father in order to prevent him from harming Kevin. Police come and arrest Kane, who was never given a parole again and was sentenced to prison for life. Max and Kevin go home and celebrate Christmas. After exchanging gifts, Kevin gives Max an empty book and tells Max to write in it.
Max is an over-sized, yet, good-natured teenage boy suffering from dyslexia who lives with his grandparents. He has flunked the seventh grade twice and is tormented by Tony “Blade” Fowler, a teenage gang leader. When Kevin is assigned as Maxs reading tutor, they form a bond of friendship over the similar circumstances they share, such as both being outcasts and their fathers abandoning them (Kevins dad heard the word “Birth Defect”, he disappeared).
Kevin and Max go to a local festival to watch fireworks for Fourth of July and get attacked by Blade and his gang. The two escape into a nearby lake with Kevin riding on Maxs shoulders. Kevin then witnesses that same gang of teens putting someones purse in a sewer later. Kevin goes and bangs on Maxs window to get the purse.
Max Kane Quotes in Freak the MightyThe Freak the Mighty quotes below are all either spoken by Max Kane or refer to Max Kane. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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. Like his father did. And Gram right away shushes him and says don’t ever say that, because little pictures have big ears, which makes me run to the mirror to see if it is my big ears made me look like Him.
It’s real easy, he doesn’t weigh much and I’m pretty sure I remember looking back and seeing him up in the wagon happy as can be, like he’s really enjoying the ride and not embarrassed to have me pulling him around.
But like Freak says later in this book, you can remember anything, whether it happened or not.
“The design limitations of the human body. You know, like we’re not bullet-proof and we can’t crush rocks with our bare hands, and if we touch a hot stove we get burned. King Arthur wanted to improve his men, so he made them armor-plated. Then he programmed them to go out and do these quests, slay the dragons and so on, which is sort of how they program robots right now.”
I shrug. Is it really such a big deal for a boy to look like his father? Which is typical butthead thinking, because of course it’s a big deal, if your father happens to be in prison. Which everybody in town knows about, it’s not like there’s any secret about what he did or why he’s there, except everybody acts like it should be a secret, and the bigger I grow and the more I look like my old man, the worse it gets.
The deal this year is that I get to go with Freak, which Gram thinks is a good idea because she’s afraid he’ll get crushed or something, she actually thinks people are going to step on him, which just goes to show how brainless she can be sometimes, and scared of everything. I mean nobody steps on little kids down there, so why should they step on Freak?
Me rescuing Freak. What a joke, right? Except that’s how it must have looked from a distance, because they never knew it was Freak who rescued me—or his genius brain and my big dumb body.
I go, “Thanks for the towel, Gram. And the ice cream. Could I have sugar in the coffee? Two teaspoons, please,” and Grim claps his hands together and he says, “Of course you can, son,” and it’s like woah! because he never calls me that. Always Max or Maxwell or “that boy.”
By now I know what a quest is because Freak has explained the whole deal, how it started with King Arthur trying to keep all his knights busy by making them do things that proved how strong and brave and smart they were, or sometimes how totally numb, because how else can you explain dudes running around inside big clunky tin cans and praying all the time? Which I don’t mention to Freak because he’s very sensitive about knights and quests and secret meanings.
I can tell he really means it. This isn’t a pretend quest, or making houses into castles or swimming pools into moats. This is why we came here, so Freak could show me where he’s been. The place is important to him. I understand this much, even if I still don’t understand about bionics or what it means to be a human robot.
“And carrying poor Kevin around, that seems to be putting real muscle on you.”
“He’s not that heavy. And anyhow it’s not fair everybody always says ‘Poor Kevin,’ just because he didn’t grow.”
Grim gives me this long, sorrowful look and then he clears his throat and says, “You’re right, he is a rather remarkable boy.”
I’m standing up straight, as tall as I can, and I’m marching exactly like he wants me to, right and left, backwards and forwards, and it’s like music or something, like I don’t even have to think about it, I just do it, and all those kids chanting our name […]
As a matter of fact I do know the answer—the reason Johnny Tremain got mad and hateful is because he burned his hand in a stupid accident—and I know about that because Freak has been showing me how to read a whole book and for some reason it all makes sense, where before it was just a bunch of words I didn’t care about.
[…] all I can think is they’re going to put me back in the learning disabled class. I’ve already decided I’ll run away if they do that […] Anyhow, I don’t take Freak’s dictionary along because my hands are trembly and I might drop it, or Mrs. Addison might ask me a word and I’ll forget how to look it up and prove I’m still a butthead goon.
“It’s not me who had quite a day,” I say. “Kevin is the one. All he did was try and eat his lunch.”
Mrs. Addison gives me this look, and then she goes, “You’re going to be okay, Maxwell Kane. I’m sure of it now.”
She’s okay for a principal, but for some reason I still can’t make her understand that it’s not me who had a really bad Friday the Thirteenth.
Gram says, “How can you tell such lies on Christmas Eve?”
“I’m telling tales, my dear, not lies. Lies are mean things, and tales are meant to entertain.”
The quiet is almost as big as he is. He’s as tall as me, only wider everywhere, and for some reason, maybe because we’re not far from Freak’s house, I’m thinking this weird thought: He doesn’t need a suit of armor.
It’s like I’m trapped underwater or something, so weak and floaty I can’t hardly fight him, can’t pry his fingers loose from my mother’s neck. From Loretta’s neck. Because everything is mixed up and he’s doing the same thing to Loretta Lee he did to my mom, choking the life out of her, and he’s got that same cold killer look because he wants her to die, like he wanted Mom to die, and nothing else matters what he wants.
“They never talk about it,” I say. “They don’t have to because I can’t ever forget it, no matter how much I try.”
“The man is an accident of nature,” he says. “All you got from him is your looks and your size. You’ve got your mother’s heart, and that’s what counts.”
The weird I thing I keep thinking about, what if something happens when I get older and I turn out to be another accident of nature?
“First you need to invent a time machine,” I say. “So you can go back there and give all the cavemen a hard time about indoor plumbing.”
Freak goes, “You don’t need a time machine if you know how to remember.”
Which is something I’ll always remember, him saying that and me trying to figure it out.
The deal is, this is really two birthdays for the price of one, because Freak the Mighty is almost a year old.
[…] Freak says we can’t expect her to understand, because you can’t really get what it means to be Freak the Mighty unless you are Freak the Mighty.
“Don’t get me upset,” he warns. “I won’t have the time, so you’ll have to do it. Just write it all down like you’re talking. Put in all the fun we had, the cool things we did. Our adventures.”
“But you know I can’t write, Kevin.”
“It’s all in your head, Max, everything you can remember. Just tell the story of Freak the Mighty, no big deal.”
I go, “Poor Gwen? She’s not the one having the special operation.”
Grim and Gram just look at each other like they can’t believe I’m so dumb, and finally Gram says, “Maxwell, dear, make an effort to eat your vegetables.”
“I don’t think it was a lie, Maxwell, do you? I think he needed something to hope for and so he invented this rather remarkable fantasy you describe. Everybody needs something to hope for. Don’t call it a lie. Kevin wasn’t a liar.”
So I wrote the unvanquished truth stuff down and then kept on going, for months and months, until it was spring again, and the world was really and truly green all over. By the time we got here, which I guess should be the end, I’m feeling okay about remembering things.
What does Max look like in Freak the Mighty?
How old is Max from Freak the Mighty?
A 12-year-old boy who is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. Max lives with his grandparents because his father is in prison for killing his mother. Max is very big for his age and looks like his father, so people fear him, but he is actually very sensitive and kind.
How old are Freak and Max in Freak the Mighty?
In Freak the Mighty, Max is thirteen years old. In the opening chapter, he provides an overview of his relationship with Freak, who is also thirteen, before the summer they reconnect just before their eighth grade year of school.
What grade is Max in Freak the Mighty?