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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Max uses Grim’s and Gram’s basement, what Max adequately calls his “down under,” as a safe escape from a world that does not understand him. We see an example of this at the very beginning of the book when Max first helps Kevin. Max retrieves Kevin’s toy from the tree and takes Kevin down to see his coveted “down under” area of the basement. Kevin’s mom, Gwen, doesn’t really know Max, is a bit afraid of him, and tries to protect her son. The way Gwen tries to protect Kevin is by removing him from Max’s “down under.” After this incident (and before Gwen calls to apologize), Max tells the reader a lot about what he thinks about the basement. The “down under” of the basement was “cool and empty. You don’t have to think about anything. You’re not even there.” This is the best evidence of Max using the basement as an escape. It is “cool and empty” as opposed to being hot and full of people who will judge him. It is also a place where Max does not have to “think about anything” as opposed to having to tax his brain like he does at school. It is a place where Max feels like he is “not even there” as opposed to being who he really is. Max will eventually learn, with Kevin’s help, to be proud of his character. As Max gains more self-confidence, he spends less and less time in the “down under” of the basement.