Saturday, May 21, 2011

Freak the Mighty

            Freak the Mighty is a story of the power of friendship.  Two boys who were so different, and yet so much alike, found companionship and comfort from one another.  Each had their limitations, but together they became the unconquerable dyad, Freak the Mighty.  The story gets its power from the point of view, the character development, and the conflict of the plot.
            The book is written in first person, in the words of Maxwell.  Known as a giant without a brain, he is satisfied being just that until Freak comes along.  Max would most likely have remained in the down under forever if Freak had not rescued him from himself.  Through their adventures, Freak and “his steed” seem to become one entity.  When Max loses Freak it is like losing a part of himself and the source of his identity.  Because of the point of view, we feel the pain of that loss as well.
            To anyone who looked at them, Freak and Max would seem to be contrasting foil characters.  Indeed, there are very pronounced differences between the two.  Max is very large, somewhat of a slow thinker, and a follower.  He runs when there is trouble, or if he can’t run, he doesn’t resist.  The only time he stands up to someone is when another person, Loretta, is in danger.  Freak, on the other hand, is very small, but amazingly smart, and not afraid to go anywhere or face anyone.  He is the leader of the group and very outgoing and inventive.  When the two combine forces, nothing can stop them.
            Taking a closer look, the two boys are very similar.  Both have not known their fathers, both have something that handicaps them, and both are hiding from something they fear.  For Max, the thing to fear is life; for Freak, it is death.  Max deals with his by retreating to the down under.  Freak deals with his fear by believing that he will be saved by bionics. 
            By joining forces, both are able to overcome their opponent.  Max learns that he needs to live.  Because he is busy rescuing damsels, unearthing treasure, and slaying dragons, Max does not even realize that he has begun to live.  Freak knows that he must die, but at the very end, he also knows that he will live on through Max’s story.  It is only by his death, that Max is compelled to tell it. 
            Along the way, Max learns several important lessons.  The first is that life cannot be lived alone… “no man is an island.”  He realizes that he needs another person in his life for him to meet his full potential.  He also learns that he is not “dumb.”  Maybe he doesn’t fully realize it until he writes his story, but Freak helped him to learn that he could do things that no one else thought that he could.  One of the most important lessons he learns is that he could choose not to be “an accident of nature.”  Grim tells him that, “All you got from him is your looks and your size.  You’ve got your mother’s heart, and that’s what counts” (139). 
            Another important lesson Max leans is about death.  He learns about the loss that is involved, the hurt, and the anger.  He feels lost and does not want to do anything with himself anymore.  After all, what was the point since we are all dying anyway?  Finally, Loretta gives him some wisdom by telling him that doing “nothing is a drag. Think about it” (160).  He does, and, realizing she is right, he begins writes about his time with Freak until it doesn’t hurt to remember anymore. 

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