Study Guide

Freak the Mighty Cunning and Cleverness

By Rodman Philbrick

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Cunning and Cleverness

I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while, and that's the truth, the whole truth. (1.1)

First line in the entire book and Max chooses to tell us he's a dummy. What effect does this have on us as readers? Should Max have let us make our own decisions?

This time I don't say huh because then I might have to explain how I'm an L.D., and reading books is the last thing I want to do. (4.25)

Why doesn't Max want Freak to know that he's learning disabled? Does he think it's something to be ashamed of? Would Freak even care?

"You should hear him talk. I think the rest of him is so small because his brain is so big." (5.25)

Max jumps to Freak's defense when Grim starts to doubt how smart he is. But we're pretty sure this is more than just standing up for a friend. Max is in awe of Freak's intellect.

I'm running right and then left, running blind and just letting Freak decide which way we should go because he must have a plan, a dude as smart as that. (7.20)

Max trusts Freak because he's so smart. We're not so sure, but braininess isn't on the top of our list of qualities we'd want for someone who was riding on our shoulders guiding us around. Balance might be nice.

"Sure it will hurt. But so what? Pain is just a state of mind. You can think your way out of anything, even pain." (9.48)

Freak sure puts a whole lot of faith in thinking. What do you think: is Freak hiding behind his brains, or does he really think all this stuff?

So what I do, I just shrug and smile and wait, because I know she will get tired of asking and move on to the next. As a matter of fact I do know the answer. (13.5)

Max might not be as dumb as he looks, eh? But if he knows the answer, why doesn't he pipe up?

"He fooled 'em," Grim is saying. "Just like he fooled Annie. Just like he fooled us once upon a time." (14.21)

It's pretty clear in Freak the Mighty that smarts can be used for good. Freak is pretty much a genius, and he uses those brains to help Max get through some pretty tough times. But in this passage, we see that smarts can be used to manipulated people, too, and that's how Killer Kane uses his brains.

"The young man is a genius," Grim is saying. "And I don't use that word lightly." (15.28)

Freak gets a lot of praise and admiration for his intelligence, but how about Max? Is he ever praised for his brain?

He stops to rub away another stream of tears. There's no crying in his voice, you can't hear it there, but sure enough the tears are all over his face, slick and shiny in the pale, pale light. (17.40)

Max might call himself a "butthead," but boy is he perceptive. What is he seeing here in Killer Kane?

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