What is the theme of Chapters 1-12 in Jerry Spinelli's book Maniac Magee?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of belonging is important to Chapters 1-12, which begin with Maniac running away and end with him moving in with the Beales.

A theme of the first 12 chapters of the novel could be the importance of a loving, stable home.  Manic leaves his aunt and uncle because they are in no way ready to have a family.  They are miserable with each other, and they can’t see past their own issues to take care of their new son. 

Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan hated each other, but because they were strict Catholics, they wouldn't get a divorce. Around the time Jeffrey arrived, they stopped talking to each other. Then they stopped sharing. (Ch. 1) 

After the death of his parents, the drama is just too much for Maniac.  He needs a home, and his aunt and uncle are not creating one.  He runs, and just keeps running.  Maniac is searching for a new family. 

When Maniac arrives in Two Mills, he meets the Beale family pretty quickly.  Everyone else in Two Mills is obsessed with race, but Maniac does not care.  He does not really see why people of different skin colors would live in different parts of town. 

When Mr. Beale finds out that Maniac has no place to go, the Beales take him in. 

Mr. Beale made a U-turn right there and headed back. Only Mrs. Beale was still downstairs when they walked into the house.  She listened to no more than ten seconds' worth of Mr. Beale's explanation before saying to Maniac, "You're staying here." (Ch. 13) 

Maniac is just happy to finally have an address again.  He does not realize that some people may not want him living there.  He likes Amanda, who loves books as much as he does.  The Beales accepted him for who he is.  For the time being, he is happy.