Freaky Deaky Themes
by Elmore Leonard

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Freaky Deaky Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The search for identity and one's proper place in society is the primary thematic focus of Freaky Deaky and is developed in different ways through the varied characters. Skip Gibbs, "a thirty-eight-year-old-kid," is a pony-tailed, bearded demolition expert whose twenty-year odyssey (with time out for a prison term) has taken him from coast to coast and to Europe. But at the end of the novel he still is searching, and his final thought is that he is "too old for this." Robin Abbott, his compatriot and former lover, also remains torn at age thirty-seven between the stable and affluent world of her parents and the revolutionary society of her college days. Symbolic of her continuing identity crisis is the escapist romantic fiction she writes under a pseudonym. Mark Ricks cannot fully establish his own identity because he is financially dependent on his brother and must do his bidding, despite his own desires. His brother Woodrow, their mother's heir, is an obese lout, usually in an alcoholic fog and scarcely knowing who he is. Donnell Lewis, a black man out of place in an alien milieu — technically is Woodrow's servant but actually runs his life — attempting to gain total control over his employer, although he lacks a clear sense of what or even who he wants to be. Chris Mankowski is drifting and rootless in another way. His relationships with woman and his father are in flux, as is his career. Symbolic of his lack of stability is the fact that he does not have a home of his own, which leads the Detroit police department to suspend him. A minor character, although important to the identity crisis theme, is Ginger Jones, an aspiring actress whose real name is Greta Wyatt; her indecisiveness about which name to use reflects a debilitating ambivalence about who and what she is.