Loretta, despite her alcoholism and subservience to Iggy, a gang boss, is sympathetic towards Max because of his low station in life. At first, she is only concerned with keeping herself safe first from Iggy's anger and then from Kenny Kane, Max's father, who is violent and bad-tempered. When Loretta discovers that Kenny is keeping Max tied up, she tries to help him escape:
"Keeping your own kid tied up, it ain't right. He ain't the man I thought I remembered, that's for sure."
(Philbrick, Freak the Mighty, Google Books)
Loretta thought that she remembered Kenny being a better man, but is shocked out of her obedience by this cruel act. She still has some humanity, despite the abuse she suffers from Iggy and Kenny, and so she tries to redeem herself in a small way by helping Max. Her actions are selfless and she almost dies for standing up to Kenny.
Loretta, is an alcoholic. She is his father's girlfriend. Max's mother is dead and he stays with his grandparents, Grim and Gram. His father, who is nicknamed Killer Kane, shows up. He is harbored in his mother's house. Right away he becomes abusive towards Max.
Max's father ties him up and keeps him kidnapped. He is hiding from the police. Loretta knows that her son is in danger. At first she was drinking with Max's father and acting happy about his presence. However, she senses the danger for Max.
Loretta sneaks down the stairs to untie Max. His father catches her. His father has Max tied up because he is planning to take him over the road with him. Loretta goes down to the basement for Max. It is dark and she is scared of the dark. She says to Max that keeping "Your own kid tied up ain't right." She unties Max and as she goes to get her flashlight, his father is behind her. He begins trying to choke her with his big hands.
Max attacks his father and pushes him while yelling at him in an effort to save Loretta. The whole while he is yelling at his father that he ahd killed his mother and that he sw him.