What role does Loretta Lee (and her nickname) play in Rodman Philbrick's young adult novel, Freak the Mighty?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Described at one point as "scrawny, yellow-haired. . .with small, hard eyes and blurry red lips", Loretta Lee isn't exactly what one might picture when thinking in terms of a hero.  She lives in a tenement type housing development full of thugs and drunks, with her thuggish boyfriend, Iggy; both Iggy and Loretta Lee are familiar with Max's father, Kenny Kane, and even help him kidnap Max.  However, by the end of the novel, the tough talking, chain smoking Loretta Lee has been dubbed "the heroic biker babe" by the local newspapers after it is revealed that she tried to help Max escape his father, Kenny Kane.  Loretta Lee shows a capacity for redemption that contributes to the mostly positive ending of the novel.  Although Kevin has died, and Max has fallen into a deep depression, by the end of the novel, he has emerged, literally and figuratively, from the darkness.  A brief conversation with, of all people, Loretta Lee, convinces him to start writing the story of Freak the Mighty, the way Kevin had instructed him to do; all Loretta Lee said was "Nothing's a drag, kid," when Max told her what he had been doing.