How did Jeffrey save Arnold Jones in Maniac Magee?

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The answer to this question can be found in chapter 5. This is early in the book, and the purpose of this chapter and sequence is to continue building the legend that is Maniac Magee when he first comes to the town. Arnold Jones is a boy that got himself caught in a bad situation. He was found, alone, in front of Finsterwald's house, and the high school boys that saw this decided to toss Jones into that particular yard.

Arnold Jones was being hoisted in the air above Finsterwald's backyard fence. The hoisters were three or four high school kids. This was one of the things they did for fun. Arnold Jones had apparently forgotten one of the cardinal rules of survival in the West End: Never let yourself be near Finsterwald's and high school kids at the same time.

Jones is so terrified to be in that yard that he goes completely silent and becomes practically catatonic.

As for Arnold Jones, he clams up the instant he hits the ground. He's on his knees now, all hushed and puckered. His eyes goggle at the back door, at the door knob. He's paralyzed, a mouse in front of the yawning maw of a python.

Maniac then comes by and calmly opens Finsterwald's gate, walks in, picks up Jones, carries him to the front steps, and waits with Jones until Jones comes enough to his senses to run away.

The phantom Samaritan stuck the book between his teeth, crouched down, hoisted Arnold Jones's limp carcass over his shoulder, and hauled him out of there like a sack of flour.

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Maniac saves Arnold when he stuck in Finsterwald’s back yard by grabbing him and taking him out.

Finsterwald’s house is frightening to the children on the block.  It is the kind of place where kids dare each other to go.  A group of high school boys push Arnold into the yard, and he gets a case of the “finsterwillies,”  which means his arms and legs are shaking.  Maniac comes to rescue Arnold, who is now so frightened he faints. 

Unfortunately, he chose to put Arnold down at the one spot in town as bad as Finsterwald’s backyard…. (ch 5, p. 19)

Maniac carries Arnold to the front porch and sits reading a book until Arnold comes to and runs away.

This chapter demonstrates how Maniac became a legend (the incident is mentioned on the first back), and why.  Maniac obviously cares about others, but he has some aloof ways of helping.  His approach to Arnold’s problem is downright bizarre, but it shows that he is clearly not afraid of the neighborhood monster.

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