Freak the Mighty Questions and Answers
by Rodman Philbrick

Freak the Mighty book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are two character traits for Maxwell Kane in Freak the Mighty?

Expert Answers info

Heather Garey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write406 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

Maxwell Kane narrates Rodman Philbrick's novel Freak the MightyIt's the story of how a learning-disabled and socially awkward boy becomes friends with a genius who has a physical disability. Together, they team up to right injustices in the world.

Max has many character traits. He is shy and timid, he's a loner, he lacks self-confidence, and he is loyal and caring. All of these character traits are developed through events that happen in the novel. 

The fact that he is a loner before meeting Kevin can be found in chapter 2, entitled "Up from the Down Under." He doesn't have any friends before he meets Kevin, and he's pretty isolated at home, too. Here is evidence for that:

That summer, let's see. I'm still living in the down under, in the little room Grim built for me there. Glued up this cheap paneling, right? It sort of buckles away from the concrete cellar walls, a regular ripple effect. But do I complain about the crummy paneling or the rug that smells like low tide? I do not. Because I like it in the down under, got the place all to myself and no fear of Gram sticking her head in the door and saying "Maxwell, what are you doing?" Not that I ever do much of anything.

The fact that he is timid can be seen in chapter 6, entitled "Close Encounter of the Turd Kind." Kevin and Max are confronted by a bully in this chapter, whose name is Tony D., better known as "Blade." Even though Max is considerably bigger than Tony D., he is not willing to fight him and shows that he is actually scared of him. Here is evidence for that:

Tony D. is looking up at me and he's showing his white teeth, I swear they've been sharpened to look like vampire teeth, and I go 'Uh-oh,' and start to get real cold inside. Real icy, because I can see that Blade is trying to make up his mind, is he going to fight me, or is he just going to kill me quick.

This happens at the beginning of Kevin and Max's friendship, and it also shows Max's lack of self-confidence. Kevin felt confident to insult Tony D. because he was sure Max could defend him. When the pair starts to run from Blade, this is the conversation that reveals Kevin's confidence in Max and Max's lack of self-confidence: 

Freak goes, "Whew! That was a close encounter of the turd kind," and it takes me a second to get the joke, but then I'm laughing, amazed he can be so cool about it, like it was no big deal that Tony D. was after us. "You can take him, right?" he asks a couple of minutes later. I go, "Are you kidding? You can't just fight Blade, you have to fight his gang, too."

Evidence that shows he is caring comes toward the end of the book, when Kevin gets very sick. Through his actions, Max demonstrates the deep love and concern he has for his friend.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write2,689 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Max Kane is one of the two main characters in Freak the Mighty and, as such, is very important to the story. In regards to character traits, the two main traits to focus on for Max are his physical strength and his lack of self-confidence. Probably the best piece of evidence is Max’s own quotation about both traits: “[Kevin’s] genius brain and [Max’s] big dumb body.”

Max is physically strong, causing him to refer to himself as having a “big dumb body.” In fact, Max earned the name “Kicker” when he was a young child because he would kick anyone who caused him a problem. The irony is that it is the particular trait of strength that allows Max and Kevin to create the dual character of “Freak the Mighty” because it is Max’s size and physical strength that allow him to carry Kevin upon his shoulders.

Max also lacks self-confidence which is duly noted in the “dumb” body reference above. Max has had a hard life. Max’s father is a dangerous criminal and put in jail; therefore, Max lives with his grandparents. Further, because of his lack of ability to express himself in front of others, many people think Max is not very intelligent (which is not really true). As a result, children have often given Max nicknames such as “Kicker” (mentioned above) and even the more negative term “Maxi Pad.”

Max, then, is the perfect complement to Kevin who is both physically frail and highly intelligent. Together the two are unstoppable. Together the two are “Freak the Mighty.”

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial