Freak the Mighty Questions and Answers
by Rodman Philbrick

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Compare and contrast Max and Kevin in Freak the Mighty.

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Steph Müller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Kevin and Max are two kids who bond and become close friends as a result of the fact that they are both disabled.

The first thing to be noted in a comparison between the two, however, is that their disabilities are remarkably different. Max has a learning disability, and despite the fact that he is a huge guy with remarkable strength, he has been made to feel stupid and worthless. Kevin, on the other hand, has a brilliant mind but has to wear braces on his legs as a result of his body being crippled by birth defects.

Of the two, it seems to be Kevin who is better equipped to deal with bullies and to keep his head during dangerous situations. When kids at school were being unkind to Max, Kevin climbs onto his shoulders and declares that together, then are "Freak the Mighty."

Kevin also seems to be a far bigger instigator of trouble than Max would ever be. While on their way to watch the Fourth of July fireworks, Kevin antagonizes Tony D., who has his group of teenage thugs in tow, putting him and Max both in a potentially dangerous situation.

A heartbreaking contrast that can be made between the two is that while Max's condition is not life-threatening, Kevin's is. Following a set of seizures, Kevin dies, and Max is left to rebuild his life without the other half of Freak the Mighty.

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Heather Garey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Kevin and Max develop a symbiotic relationship, but at the start, it seems unlikely that these two would develop a friendship due to their glaring differences. 

Max struggles in school and has a learning disability in reading. He describes himself as unintelligent. He lives in the basement of his grandparent's home (his mother's parents). His father is in prison and his mother is gone. He doesn't have a particularly close relationship with his grandparents, especially his grandfather, who he calls Grim. 

In contrast, Kevin is incredibly smart. The first time readers encounter him in the novel, he has created an ornithopter that has become stuck in a tree. This is the first instance of symbiosis--Kevin can't reach the ornithopter, and Max's size allows him to reach it easily. Max is befuddled by Kevin's enormous vocabulary. Kevin's relationship with his single mom is much different than his next door neighbor Max's relationship with his kin. It is clear that Gwen dotes on Kevin, and Kevin adores her....

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