What is the mood of Freak the Mighty?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The mood is relatively gloomy when the novel begins. Max and Kevin are outcasts. Because of his father’s past and the death of his mother, Max is physically large for his age but is mentally crippled. He spends most of his time in the basement. On the other hand, Kevin is physically crippled but a mental giant. As the novel develops, the mood fluctuates between hope, tension and tragedy. The relationship between Max and Kevin is inspirational. The tension rises when Max is kidnapped. The mood becomes tragic when Kevin dies. Max retreats to the basement, more isolated than ever. But by the end of the story, relying on Kevin’s encouragement, Max writes his way back to “feeling okay.” The final mood is a transformation from tragedy to optimism. This theme of transformation is central to the book. The mood transforms as the characters do.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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First we need to look at the definition of mood.  Only then can we continue to figure out what the mood is in Freak the Mighty.  Mood is the atmosphere in a novel and refers to the emotions stirred up within the reader.  This being said, I will admit this is not an easy question to answer.  Considering all of the aspects of Freak the Mighty, I would say that the book has a brooding mood overall.  Brooding means “showing deep unhappiness of thought” where many of the major plot points are “darkly menacing.” 

Max is the one telling the tale and he is continually brooding because of one main reason:  Max lacks self-confidence.  We can see this brooding mood even in the very first sentence of the novel.

I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while, and that’s the truth, the whole truth.

There is no doubt the mood word has to be negative.  The second word used here is “never.”  Max is showing how he doubts his intelligence, giving all of the credit to Kevin.  He adds to the brooding mood by repeating, twice, that this statement is truth. 

The brooding atmosphere continues through the entire book.  Remember, Kevin has a serious birth defect. This is extensively discussed through Max’s experience.  Even through their adventures, Max and Kevin constantly deal with Blade and his rough gang of thugs.  Max has another major external problem, too:  his father, Kenny “Killer” Kane.  Kane has murdered Max’s mother.  When Kane is let out on parole, the mere news of this is enough to send Max in to hysterics.  Max is right to react in this way.  Sure enough, Kane kidnaps Max on Christmas eve and holds him prisoner in an old basement.  The image of Max alone and chained to a boiler (by his father, no less) is enough to confirm the brooding mood later in the book.

In conclusion, one has to admit that Kevin’s death adds to the brooding mood of the novel.  Kevin’s death due to his heart being “too big for his body” is devastating to Max.  Max literally broods in his basement “down under” just as he has about so many other disappointments in his life.  We must end, however, by saying that the novel does end on a positive note.  Max decides to immortalize his friend, Kevin, by writing down the adventures of “Freak the Mighty,” the dual character they have created together.


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