Maniac Magee Questions and Answers
by Jerry Spinelli

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In Maniac Magee, how long did it take Maniac to untie the knot in dhapter 20?

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Unfortunately, readers are not given the specific amount of time that it took Maniac Magee to untie the incredible Cobble's Knot. The only thing that you could say for sure is that it took Maniac less than a day to do it. We do get the impression that it took Maniac a significant part of the day's daylight hours, but considering that the knot was thought impossible to untie, taking less than a day is also impressive. We are told that Maniac didn't even bother pulling a single string for over ten minutes. He simply examined the knot and did things like "feel the weight of it." After an hour, Maniac was only successful in getting a few finger-size loops free. Then we are told that it is lunchtime. I would assume that Maniac has been working on the knot for three to four hours by this time. Maniac then takes a nap that lasts exactly fifteen minutes, and he continues working on the knot. Around dinnertime, Maniac has turned the impossible Cobble's Knot into "nothing but string."

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We aren't actually given a specific time that Maniac took to untie the knot, however it is clear that he takes most of the day to achieve his great feat. Regular reference is made to the passing of time during the day, such as "the long August afternoon." Of course, Maniac Magee is finally successful in accomplishing his great feat at dinnertime, we are told, when the narrator joyfully announces that:

Cobble's Knot was dead. Undone. Gone. It was nothing but string.

We can thus infer that Maniac Magee started this immense challenge at some point in the morning, and, apart from the fifteen minute nap that we are told he took, continued at it without a break until dinner time, spending about eight hours on the task until his success.

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