by Jerry Spinelli
Maniac Magee Theme of Freedom and Confinement
Not going to school? Sounds good to us! In fact, it sounds like the ultimate freedom. In Maniac Magee, though, skipping school isn't necessarily about freedom. And freedom might not be such a good thing. In fact, it just might be a word for nothing left to lose. In other words, Maniac's freedom from all the rules and regulations that normal kids have actually ends up trapping him. It's only when he accepts Mrs. Beale as a mom that he's free to be a kid.
Questions About Freedom and Confinement
- How would Maniac's story have been different if he had run into a social worker before he ran into Amanda Beale?
- Does freedom equal loneliness?
- Do you buy the explanation that Maniac doesn't want to go to school until he has a real address? If he's living with the Beales now, do you think he's going to school?
- Towards the end of the book, why does Maniac choose to sleep with the baby buffalo instead of at one of the many houses that would gladly take him in?
Chew on This
Even when he's part of a family, Maniac isn't willing to give up his freedom.
Maniac experiences the most freedom from rules and regulations of the outside world while living in the zoo, where the rest of the residents are experiencing the ultimate confinement.