What are the finsterwallies in "Maniac Magee"?

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Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Finsterwallies are the shakes caused by intense fear. The name comes from "Finsterwalds," the name of the family living in a house approached in fear by the neighborhood kids.  Arnold Jones was thrown over into the Finsterwalds' backyard.  He had such intense fear that he began to shake (this shaking later became known as the "finsterwallies").  He was rescued by Maniac Magee (who put him on the Finsterwlds' front steps, which was just as bad).