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In Chapter 15 of Rodman Philbrick’s novel Freak the Mighty, titled “What Came Down the Chimney,” the Christmas season has arrived, and the close relationship between Kevin (“Freak”) and Max, forged out of their respective disabilities and consequent alienation from most of their fellow children, has provided an opportunity for a serious demonstration affection. The specter of Max’s father, “Killer Kane,” being released from prison looms over them but, for now, they focus on the joyfulness that is Christmas. Freak has given Max a gift of a pyramid-shaped box, into which he has obviously invested time, energy and creativity – all within the norm of Freak’s mental acuity. As Max describes this unique gift,
“. . .Freak has the whole thing rigged with these elastic bands and paper clips, which is what made the sides unfold all at the same time, and inside is this little platform and on the platform is a book. Not a normal book, like you buy in the store, but a book he made himself, you can tell right away. It looks so special, I’m afraid to pick it up or I might ruin it.”
The book, of course, is a dictionary Freak has made especially for his friend. As Freak explains, “[w]hat I did was take all my favorite words . . .and put them in alphabetical order.” To Max’s query, “Like a dictionary?” Freak replies, “Exactly . . .but different, because this is my dictionary.” [Emphasis in original text]
Freak’s gift to Max is very special. The two boys bonded over their respective adversities, and emotionally merged into one symbiotic character, Freak the Mighty. Max’s brawn, simple-minded but kind nature has been affixed to Kevin’s physically disabled but superior intellect. They’re whole is greater than the sum of their parts. That Max, who has endeared the ridicule of others for his mental deficiencies, should be treated so kindly and helpfully by Kevin, in the form of this intricately-designed and constructed gift, is a matter of great importance for the bigger boy. Kevin’s gift is something only a true friend would take the time to make.
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