Camp Green Lake is described. It is no longer a lake because over a hundred years ago the lake dried up and the people who lived around it moved away. Now the lake is a dry and barren land where the temperature is usually about ninety- five degrees. The only place where there is shade is between two trees where there is a hammock. The hammock belongs to the Warden so the campers cannot lie in it. Rattlesnakes and scorpions hide in the shade under rocks and in holes that the campers of Camp Green Lake dig. Rattlesnakes and scorpions are horrible but nothing is as dangerous as the yellow-spotted lizard, whose bite is always fatal.
Boys who have committed crimes are sent to Camp Green Lake. The boys are supposed to dig holes at the camp in the hopes that they will build character and abide by the law. Stanley Yelnats, the protagonist, thinks that Camp Green Lake will be like a summer camp. He has never been to summer camp because his family is poor, so when he is tried for a crime and the judge tells him he can either go to the camp or to jail, he chooses Camp Green Lake.
Stanley rides to Camp Green Lake on a bus with the bus driver and a guard with a gun. He carries a backpack with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a box of stationery that he plans to use to write to his mother. Stanley pretends that he is going to a camp like the ones rich children go to. Stanley hopes that he will make friends at Camp Green Lake. He is overweight and at home kids and teachers say mean things about his weight. His math teacher, Mrs. Bell, once taught ratios by comparing Stanley to a boy who weighed one third as much as he did. Stanley had been arrested on the day of the ratio lesson for a crime he did not commit. Stanley and his family always seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and they blame their bad luck on Stanley’s no-good-dirty-rotten- pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. This great-great-grandfather had stolen a pig from a Gypsy who only had one leg. The Gypsy put a curse on the great- great-grandfather and his descendants. Although they do not believe in curses, Stanley’s family has very bad luck. Stanley remembers a song that his father often sings to him about a wolf and a bird who wish life was easier. Stanley’s father is an inventor and although his is smart and works very hard he never has any luck. Because he never has any luck his inventions never work. Stanley’s father and grandfather and great grandfather are all named Stanley Yelnats. Because of this, the protagonist Stanley is Stanley Yelnats IV. Stanley’s first name is his last name spelled backwards. All Stanley Yelnatses have retained hope even when faced with very bad luck. The first Stanley Yelnats, the protagonist’s great grandfather, made a fortune on the stock market. The family’s bad luck struck him when he moved from New York to California and was robbed by Kissin’ Kate Barlow. If Stanley’s great grandfather had not been robbed then Stanley might be living in a mansion in California instead of in a Texas apartment that smelles of burning rubber and foot odor caused by Stanley’s father’s attempts to invent a way to recycle old sneakers. Stanley thinks it is cool that his great-grandfather was robbed by an outlaw. Kate Barlow did not actually kiss Stanley’s great-grandfather because she did not kill him; she only kissed the men she killed. Stanley arrives at Camp Green Lake but he can’t see any greenery.
The first three chapters set the scene of Camp Green Lake as a menacing place. Even before Stanley arrives at the camp it is clear that life will be hard for him there. The threats at Camp Green Lake are twofold; they come from humans and nature. Humans such as the Warden and the guard on the bus who has a gun are a clear symbol of harsh authority. The natural environment around Green Lake, the unrelenting sun, the dry air, and the many poisonous animals, are also fierce and dangerous.
Just as Stanley’s father continually hopes for an invention and is continually disappointed by his failures, so Stanley’s hopes for friends and fun at Camp Green Lake are sure to be disappointed. This cycle of hope and disappointment runs in Stanley’s family as part of the family curse handed down from Stanley’s great-great-grandfather. If Stanley did not commit a crime, it seems that he is suffering for the actions of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great- grandfather. The short description provided of this great-great-grandfather leads the reader to assume that he really was a crook who has caused generations of his family to suffer unjustly.
In three short chapters, the narrator presents information about many different places and times in history. The narration jumps from a description of Camp Green Lake to Stanley’s trial, to Stanley’s home life and family history. Full information is not available about any of these topics. We now know that Stanley has been wrongly convicted of a crime, but the crime itself is unknown. This technique is indicative of the pattern of the novel. Small pieces of Stanley’s history and the history of Camp Green Lake and its residents are revealed, slowly creating a unified chain of events that can be inferred, but not proven, until the end of the novel. Enough clues are given, however, for the reader to gradually make more and more educated guesses about what will happen next. In this way, the book is like a detective story. Just as a detective must study every clue, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, we must take note of every detail presented in this book. The yellow-spotted lizards mentioned in chapter one, Stanley’s trial, Kate Barlow, Stanley’s great-great-grandfather, Stanley’s great-grandfather and Stanley’s father, are all characters and events that relate to one another no matter how unimportant their description may seem in the first few chapters.
Stanley leaves the bus and finds he is dazed and has a dry throat from the heat. He sees a few tents, a few buildings, and two trees by a cabin. Other than the two trees he cannot see any other sign of plant life, not even weeds. Stanley enters a building with a sign signifying the beginning of Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility and another sign prohibiting guns, explosives, weapons, drugs, and alcohol. Stanley thinks it is obvious that one would not carry these things into the camp. He meets Mr. Sir inside the air- conditioned building. Mr. Sir is eating sunflower seeds and says that they are his substitute for smoking. Mr. Sir introduces himself and commands Stanley to always call him Mr. Sir. Then he tells Stanley, “You’re not in the Girl Scouts anymore.”
Stanley removes his clothing so that Mr. Sir can make sure that he is not hiding anything beneath them. Mr. Sir gives Stanley two sets of orange jumpsuits, orange T-shirts, yellow socks, and one towel. Mr. Sir then tells Stanley that one set of clothing is for working and the other is for relaxation. Every three days one set of clothing will be washed. He has to dig one hole every day, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Every hole has to be five feet deep and five feet across. His shovel is five feet long and is to be used as a measuring stick. Breakfast is at 4:30am so that the boys can work before the sun is out and the day gets hotter. Mr. Sir tells Stanley that there is nothing to prevent Stanley from running away because there is nothing to run to. They are surrounded by desert and the only water is at the camp. Mr. Sir has a gun but he tells Stanley that it is only used to shoot yellow-spotted lizards. He asks Stanley if he is thirsty and when Stanley responds that he is, Mr. Sir tells him to get used to it.
There are six tents labeled A through F. The counselors sleep in tent F and the campers, or juvenile delinquents, sleep in the other tents. Stanley is assigned to tent D with Mr. Pendanski as his counselor. Mr. Pendanski is friendly to Stanley and warns him not to upset the Warden. Mr. Pendanski tells Stanley he wants to help Stanley turn his life around. Stanley assumed it is useless to claim his innocence again so he tells Mr. Pendanski he will try to change. Mr. Pendanski introduces Stanley to two other campers. The campers all have real names and nicknames. Mr. Pendanski introduces Rex and Alan but their nicknames are X-Ray and Squid. The campers are so dirty that it takes Stanley a minute to realize that X-Ray is black and Squid is white. X-Ray wears glasses and asks what happened to Barf Bag. Mr. Pendanski, who will only call the campers by their birth names, replies that Lewis is in the hospital and will not be returning. Stanley is shown his cot, which previously belonged to Barf Bag. The cot is one of seven that are tightly packed in one room. Mr. Pendanski introduces José, Theodore, and Ricky who are also known as Magnet, Armpit, and Zigzag. Zero is the last boy that Stanley meets. Mr. Pendanski claims that Zero has his name due to the fact that there is nothing inside his head. Mr. Pendanski, called “mom” by the boys, asks everyone to help Stanley get adjusted to the camp and then leaves. Stanley asks Theodore where he can find water and Theodore reacts with violence. He grabs Stanley and throws him to the floor, saying that his name is Armpit. Then he tells him that there is a water spigot near the shower.
Camp Green Lake is described to resemble a prison or work camp. The orange clothing that the boys are forced to wear sound almost identical to the kinds of uniforms worn by the inmates in many prisons. The digging of holes every day not only sounds tiring, but also alludes to digging graves. Mr. Sir presents a menacing physical presence and has a mean personality. Mr. Pendanski, on the other hand, seems to be a surprisingly kind presence at Camp Green Lake. The fact that the boys call him “mom” suggests that he is like a caring family member to them, and his desire for the other boys to help Stanley also supports this. Mr. Pendanski’s explanation of Zero’s name, however, suggests his potential meanness. If Mr. Pendanski truly wanted to help every boy on their way to a better life then it seems doubtful that he would dismiss Zero as a boy with no brains at all.
Stanley is not as tough as the other boys at Camp Green Lake are. While Stanley is innocent of the crime he was accused of, most of the other boys are there because they are guilty. Although the nature of their crimes are unknown, the sign outside of Mr. Sir’s office, which prohibits weapons, suggests that violence may be second nature to many of the boys. Stanley consideration of this sign as obvious is a sign of his naivete. The fact that Armpit punches Stanley simply for calling him Theodore shows that the boys are not only tough but also unpredictable. This insistence on nicknames is a revealing trait of the boys at the camp. By refusing to be called by their given names, it seems that the boys are cutting themselves off from their lives outside the camp. This may be because they refuse to look back on the events that have led to their internment at the camp, or it may be a sign of control for them. The boys have all been forced to come to Camp Green Lake and once there they are told what to wear, when to wake up, what to eat, and forced to dig holes. By naming themselves they are capable of deciding on their own identity and differentiating themselves from every other boy who wears the same orange jumpsuit and digs the same holes every single day.
Stanley takes a cold and quick shower. There is no hot water and each boy is allowed only four minutes under the water, which then turns off automatically. Stanley eats a disgusting dinner, and a camper asks him what he got in trouble for. Stanley tells him that he stole a pair of sneakers from the famous baseball player Clyde “Sweet Feet” Livingston. No one believes that Stanley has done that. When Stanley retires to his smelly cot he thinks back on the crime he didn’t commit. The day Stanley was arrested, the school bully, Derrick Dunne, had thrown Stanley’s notebook in the toilet in the bathroom. The teachers never believed that Derrick bullied Stanley because Stanley was much bigger than Derrick.
After Stanley got his notebook out of the toilet, he had to walk home because he had missed the bus. While Stanley was walking, a pair of shoes had fallen from a freeway overpass, and hit him on the head. Since his father was doing experiments with sneakers, Stanley ran home to give them to his father. The shoes had smelled very bad. Because he was running, a police car pulled him over and took the shoes. Stanley later found out that the shoes belonged to Clyde Livingston and had been donated to a homeless shelter to raise money. Clyde Livingston himself lived at the homeless shelter once when he was younger. Stanley was convicted of stealing the shoes and sent to Camp Green Lake.
Stanley has a hard time digging his first hole. The ground is hard and he quickly develops painful blisters on his hands. Mr. Pendanski tells Stanley that he must dig a hole to build character, but that if he finds anything interesting he must tell a counselor because the Warden likes to know about interesting finds. More of Stanley’s family history is revealed in this chapter. Stanley’s great-great-grandfather was from Latvia and his name was Elya Yelnats. When he was fifteen he fell in love with a pretty fourteen year old girl named Myra Menke. Elya wanted to marry Myra but so did Igor Barkov, a fifty-seven year old pig farmer. Elya cannot offer Myra’s family a pig like Igor can so he visits his friend, Madame Zeroni, an old Egyptian woman with only one foot. Despite the fact that most other boys in the village liked to mud wrestle, Elya prefers to listen to the stories that Madame Zeroni tells him.
Madame Zeroni tries to dissuade Elya from seeking to marry the dimwitted and weak Myra. Madame Zeroni advises Elya to go to America as her son has. Elya continues to be sad so against her better judgement Madame Zeroni gives Elya a small pig to take care of. She teaches him a song and tells him that he must carry the pig up a mountain where there is a stream with water that runs uphill. He must sing the song to the pig and let it drink from the water. If he does this every day then the pig will grow. She also makes Elya promise that after he shows the pig to Myra’s father he must carry her, Madame Zeroni, up the mountain and sing to her. If he does not, then she says she will put a curse on his family.
Elya promises to fulfill all of Madame Zeroni’s requests, but on the day that he brings the pigs to Myra’s house he realizes that Myra is very stupid and that she doesn’t care who she marries. Disillusioned, Elya gets on a boat bound for America, forgetting his promise to Madame Zeroni. In America he learns English and marries a woman who is strong and smart. He teaches her the song that Madame Zeroni taught him, about a woodpecker and a wolf who wish their life was easier. Elya and his wife have a son who they name Stanley Yelnats because they like that Stanley is Yelnats spelled backwards. Even though they all work very hard, they have a lot of bad luck in their lives and Elya begins to believe that Madame Zeroni has cursed him.
Holes explores the different ways in which people are viewed by themselves and by others. While the authorities view the unfortunate Stanley as a criminal, the boys at Camp Green Lake, themselves delinquents, cannot believe that Stanley could or would steal a famous baseball player’s shoes. Similarly, while Stanley feels persecuted by Derrick Dunne, the class bully, the teachers at his school believe that Stanley’s size would make it impossible for a smaller boy to pick on him. Following this vein of thought, Stanley and his family think of Elya Yelnats as a good-for-nothing pig stealer but when the narrator reveals Elya’s full story, it is clear that he is really just a lovelorn man who made an unfortunate, unintended, error.
The story of Elya and Madame Zeroni has many elements of a classic fairy-tale, making the novel resemble a fable. A classic fable is a brief story told to illustrate a moral point. Holes is far more lengthy than a fable and there are many morals that result from the narration, but many of the characteristics are similar. Madame Zeroni’s instructions of how to take care of the pig have the ring of a magic spell, complete with water that runs uphill. The entire idea of a curse is typical of a fable or fairy tale, and the way that the curse follows Stanley’s family for generations is reminiscent of how the witch in Snow White punishes Snow White and her family for hundreds of years simply because they neglected to invite her to a party. The morals in Holes involve keeping promises, evaluating people based on more than one impression, and many other themes that will be revealed in later chapters.
The dangerous yellow-spotted lizard is described. The lizards have eleven yellow spots, which are hard to see on their yellow-green body. They have black teeth, and white tongues. They like to live in holes, which offer them shade, and they can leap out of even very deep holes in order to attack their prey. In addition to small animals, insects, and cactus thorns, the lizards like to eat sunflower seeds.
Stanley, exhausted after digging his first hole, returns to camp. He enters the recreation room, which is called the wreck room. Everything in the wreck room is broken. Stanley bumps into a large boy who tries to pick a fight with him. Stanley tries to avoid the fight and X-Ray and Armpit come to his rescue saying, “You don’t want to mess with the Caveman.” Stanley, Armpit, Squid, and X-Ray talk about the trouble of digging holes. Stanley has brought his box of paper to the wreck room because he wants to write a letter to his mother. When he explains to Squid that his mother will worry if he doesn’t write to her, Squid scowls at him. Stanley notices that the entire room is wrecked because the boys themselves have broken the things in it. Stanley waits until Squid leaves before writing his letter. When Stanley does write to his mother he tells her he is having fun and swimming a lot. In the middle of writing his letter Stanley notices that Zero is staring at his letter. Zero asks Stanley, “Did the shoes have red X’s on the back?” Stanley responds that they did and then hears Armpit and Squid calling Caveman to come to dinner. Stanley realizes that his nickname is Caveman.
Stanley’s second hole is also very hard to dig. While he is digging he finds the fossil of a fish. He has been told by Mr. Pendanski that if he finds anything interesting he might not have to finish his hole. When the water truck comes Stanley notices that there is always an order to the line, with X-Ray followed by Armpit, Squid, Zigzag, Magnet, Zero, and then Stanley. Stanley shows the fish fossil to Mr. Pendanski but Mr. Pendanski says that the fossil is not what the Warden wants. Stanley has to finish digging his hole.
X-Ray asks Stanley to give him anything else interesting that he might find. X- Ray explains that his nickname is pig latin for his real name, Rex. Actually X- Ray has very poor vision and will never be able to find anything that might be in the holes. X-Ray says that since he has been at the camp for a year and Stanley has only been there a month, it is more important for X-Ray to get the day off. Stanley agrees because he wants X-Ray to like him. Stanley wonders why everyone follows what X-Ray does. He realizes that X-Ray is the smallest boy apart from Zero and that he, Stanley, is actually the largest boy. As Stanley continues to dig his hole he imagines a confrontation between his school bully, Derrick Dunne and the boys here. He enjoys thinking of Derrick Dunne, who has so often tormented Stanley, being beaten up by the boys from the camp.
When Stanley finishes digging his second hole he returns to camp to find Mr. Pendanski talking with the boys in his group. Mr. Pendanski asks each boy what he wants to do as a career, after leaving Camp Green Lake. When Mr. Pendanski says that even Zero is not totally worthless and then asks Zero what he would like to do when he leaves Camp Green Lake. Zero is silent at first but then he replies that he likes digging holes.
This section develops the relationship between the narrative and fairy tales. The yellow-spotted lizards embody many of the fears that most people have. Not only are they hideous looking and dangerous, but they hide in holes, where the boys spend most of their time. They are a constant menace and because they like to eat sunflower seeds (which are what Mr. Sir constantly spits into the boys’ holes), the reader can guess that they will soon appear as a threat to at least one of the characters. Combined with the ever-present threat of the Warden, the dry heat, and the task of digging holes day after day, the lizards form an environment closer to hell than even Little Red Riding Hood experienced after being eaten by a wolf.
The theme of differing ways of perceiving personalities is also developed in this section. The boys in Stanley’s tent name him Caveman but Stanley does not even realize that they are referring to him. The name Caveman brings to mind a hulking man who is very powerful, perhaps someone dressed in animal skins and carrying a club. Stanley, on the other hand, thinks of himself as a weak person who is often picked on and who has very bad luck. While he was trying to avoid a fight with the other boy, X-Ray and Armpit believe that he was being brave and perhaps instigating a fight. The irony of Stanley, who only wants to avoid fights, being named Caveman is similar to the irony of Rex, who is practically blind, being named X-Ray. While X-Ray could easily be bullied because of his glasses and lack of sight, he is in fact, the leader of the group. Stanley later realizes that X-Ray is also one of the smallest of the boys in his tent. Despite these two factors that might lead X-Ray to be picked on, he is the one bossing others around. Becoming a bully has nothing to do with size, but rather is a product of mentality. What Stanley has yet to learn is how to change his perception of himself as someone who is frequently bullied and instead see himself as strong and confident.
Stanley understands that X-Ray is the unofficial leader of the boys in tent D, and for this reason he agrees to give X-Ray anything else that he might find while digging his holes. Stanley must constantly remind himself, however, that the other boys in the tent are capable of great meanness. When Squid scowls at Stanley for writing to his mother Stanley notices that it is the boys themselves who have wrecked the things in the wreck room. He realizes that he must continue to be cautious about what he does and says around the other boys because they are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Even Mr. Pendanski is still a character to be wary of. While he exudes cheerfulness towards the boys he continually displays small cruelties, like mentioning that Zero is not totally worthless. This comment obviously shows Mr. Pendanski’s lack of respect for Zero and also illustrates the fact that Mr. Pendanski is not always caring and helpful.
Stanley returns to digging and finds a small gold tube with a heart engraved on it. Inside the heart the initials KB are engraved. He has previously told X-Ray that he would give him anything he found so that X-Ray could have the day off. Reluctantly, Stanley gives X-Ray the tube. Because it is almost the end of the day, Stanley suggests that X-Ray keep the tube until the next day so that if the Warden likes what he has found he can get the whole day off instead of just an hour. X-Ray agrees that this is a good plan and when the water line forms, X-Ray tells Stanley to move up one place in line, ahead of Zero.
The next morning, Stanley asks X-Ray if he has the object. X-Ray yells at Stanley to leave him alone and pretends he doesn’t know what Stanley is talking about. While they are digging, X-Ray waits until the water truck has come to the holes before pretending to find the gold tube. Mr. Pendanski goes to inform the Warden of X-Ray’s find. The Warden is a tall woman with red hair and freckles. She wears a cowboy hat and black cowboy boots studded with turquoise stones. She gives X-Ray the day off and orders Mr. Pendanski to fill the canteens for the boys again. When Mr. Pendanski says that he has just filled them the Warden, obviously angered, asks Stanley, calling him Caveman, if he has a full canteen. Since Stanley’s canteen is not full the Warden tells Mr. Pendanski to fill them without questioning her authority.
The Warden sends X-Ray back to camp to take the day off. She orders Zero to dig X-Ray’s hole and Stanley to sift through the dirt that Zero digs. She puts two boys on every hole, one to dig and the other to sift. All of the boys are promised a double shower and the day off if they find anything. Stanley wonders how the Warden knew he was called Caveman and Zigzag tells him that the Warden has small hidden cameras and microphones all around the camp. Stanley realizes that this is why X-Ray didn’t want to talk about the object at breakfast. Stanley also realizes that the Warden has the boys digging in order to find something. He makes a mental note of the location of the hole that he found the gold tube in.
Stanley enters the Wreck room and sees that all the boys are exhausted except for X-Ray, who is gloating about his day off. Zigzag complains that it is too loud to watch television and Stanley notices that Zigzag is staring at the broken television screen. The next day the Warden follows the boys to their holes. As Stanley sifts through dirt he tries to think of what the gold tube might have been. The Warden grows tired and orders Mr. Sir to make the boys work faster. After digging the boys retire to the Wreck room where Mr. Pendanski gives Stanley a letter. Armpit and Squid taunt Stanley about having a letter from his mother but X-Ray tells them to leave him alone. After the boys leave for dinner Stanley reads the letter from his mother. She tells him that she is proud of him and that their landlord is threatening to evict them because his father’s experiments with shoes make the whole apartment smell awful. Stanley’s mother writes that she feels sorry for the old lady who lived in a shoe because the smell must have been awful. Stanley laughs at this and Zero asks him why he is laughing. Stanley is surprised because he thought everyone had left. He tells Zero what his mother had written but Zero has never heard of the old lady who lived in a shoe. Stanley asks Zero if he has ever watched Sesame Street but Zero simply stares at him. Stanley leaves Zero and heads to dinner.
This section shows the ways that groups of people establish and maintain power. X-Ray becomes the group’s leader because he has a system of rewards for those who support him. Once Stanley has done X-Ray a favor, X-Ray rewards him by moving him ahead in the water line and coming to his defense when Squid taunts him about receiving a letter from his mother. The Warden also has a system to keep herself in control of the whole group. Like X-Ray’s system, she uses punishments and rewards to keep order but unlike X-Ray, she is the officially recognized head of the camp. She increases her power by increasing her vision; like a wich who can see everything through a crystal ball, the Warden’s hidden cameras and microphones allow her complete control over the boys. She rewards X- Ray when he claims to have found the gold tube and the other boys, who must continue working without a reward, understand the full effect of being in the Warden’s good graces.
The Warden is nicer to all of the boys when she believes that they are working for her and getting her what she wants. As soon as she begins to feel her goals will not be reached, she stops treating the boys well, and it is clear to them that they are no longer in her favor. Just as X-Ray has the power to move Stanley in front of Zero on the water line, so the Warden has power over not just the boys, but also Mr. Pendanski. When Mr. Pendanski threatens her system of absolute control even in a minute way, the Warden retaliates with a threat to lower his rank. She has the power to place him on the level of the campers if she wants, and it seems that this threat keeps him absolutely loyal to her. This even demonstrates that even though Mr. Pendanski seems to be in charge, he is always under the absolute control of the Warden. In addition to finding out more information about the power structure of Camp Green Lake, these chapters provide the reader with more clues to the puzzle of the book. The gold tube that Stanley has found obviously interests the Warden and has some bearing on why all the boys are digging holes in the first place. The gold tube is one more clue and the initials will doubtless provide more information about why the Warden wants the boys digging holes under the hot Texas sun.
The boys continue to dig in the spot that the Warden believes contained the gold tube. After a week and a half she grows impatient and when Armpit returns from the bathroom one day she jabs at him with a pitchfork, knocking him into a hole and leaving spots of blood on his shirt. The Warden then tells Mr. Pendanski that he is giving the boys too much water. As they continue to dig Zigzag knocks Stanley in the head with a shovel, cutting a gash near his ear. Mr. Sir makes him a bandage out of a sack of sunflower seeds and tells him to get back to work. Zigzag is not apologetic, in fact, he even makes Stanley dig out the dirt that had been on Stanley’s shovel when he was hit.
The next day the boys begin to dig in another section of the dried up lake. Stanley is stronger now and finishes his holes faster. When he returns to camp he writes a letter to his mother in his tent so that the other boys won’t see him. Again, he finds Zero looking over his shoulder. Zero reveals that he doesn’t know how to read or write and asks Stanley to teach him. Stanley says that he can’t.
One night Stanley wakes to hear Squid crying. The next morning Stanley asks Squid if he’s okay and Squid reacts with anger, threatening to break Stanley’s jaw if he opens his mouth again. Stanley doesn’t talk to the other boys very much because he is afraid of making them angry. He is glad that there are no racial problems between them; even though Stanley, Squid, and Zigzag are white and X-Ray, Zero and Armpit are black, and Magnet is Hispanic, they are all the same color of dirt while they are digging. One day after Mr. Sir fills their canteens, Magnet steals his bag of sunflower seeds. When Magnet throws the bag to Stanley, the seeds drop into Stanley’s hole and spill. Mr. Sir’s truck returns and he catches Stanley with the bag of seeds. Stanley is again in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mr. Sir asks Stanley who stole them and Stanley takes the blame. Then Mr. Sir takes Stanley to the Warden.
These chapters demonstrate some of the most dramatic changes in Stanley’s character. Stanley has toughened physically from digging holes every day. Those that he is surrounded by have forced him to change his character as well. The Warden displays new levels of cruelty in these chapters. Simply because the boys have not dug up what she is looking for she physically harms Armpit. Just as X- Ray’s informal system of authority mirrors that of the Warden’s, so the cruelty of the boys mirrors that of their counselors. This is demonstrated by the fact that Zigzag seems not to care when he seriously hurts Stanley with his shovel and Mr. Sir barely takes a few minutes to bandage Stanley up. All the cruelty surrounding Stanley effects him and he is mean to Zero even after he finds out that Zero cannot read. Although Stanley was previously surprised when he discovered that Zero had never even heard of Sesame Street, he does not question why this is the case, nor does he wonder why Zero cannot read. Stanley has learned that he must be wary of others and take care of himself, and this sometimes requires being mean to others. A more positive change that Stanley has undergone is a heightened sense of bravery. Even though Stanley did not steal the sunflower seeds he bravely says that he did. There are several motivations that Stanley might have for doing this. He might take the blame simply because he knows the other boys will not admit that they stole the seeds, but it is also possible that he accepts responsibility in order to spare the other boys. Either way, he knows he will face the Warden and although this is a terrifying thought, Stanley remains brave while he faces Mr. Sir.
Mr. Sir takes Stanley to see the Warden. Mr. Sir explains that someone stole the sunflower seeds but that he doesn’t think it was Stanley. The Warden asks Stanley to bring a makeup case over to her. In the case there is, among other things, a lipstick case and a bottle of red nail polish. The Warden explains that the nail polish has rattlesnake venom in it. The polish is harmless when dry but toxic while wet. The Warden then paints the nails on her hands and slaps Mr. Sir across the face. Her wet nail polish makes him write with pain. When Stanley expresses concern for Mr. Sir, the Warden tells him, “He’s not going to die…Unfortunately for you.”
Stanley returns to his hole and thinks of how his great-grandfather felt after being robbed by Kissin’ Kate Barlow and then stranded in the desert. By the time Stanley’s great-grandfather was rescued he was insane. He claimed that he had “found refuge on God’s thumb.” He married a nurse from the hospital after he recovered but he never knew what he meant by “God’s thumb”. When Stanley reaches his hole he finds that Zero has dug it for him.
Back in the tent, Stanley waits until the other boys have left before thanking Zero for digging his hole. When asked why he helped, Zero says that Stanley didn’t steal the sunflower seeds. Stanley points out that Zero didn’t steal them either to which Zero responds, “You didn’t steal the sneakers.” After this, Stanley offers to teach Zero to read and they work out a deal in which Zero will dig Stanley’s hole for an hour every day so that Stanley won’t be as tired when he teaches Zero. Stanley begins to teach Zero the alphabet and discovers that Zero is very good at math. Zero says he knows everyone thinks he is stupid but that really he just doesn’t like answering questions. That night Stanley worried what X-Ray will say when Zero digs for Stanley. Then he thinks of the gold tube he found and realizes it is like something he has seen in the Warden’s bathroom; it is half a lipstick container. He wonders if the initials KB could stand for Kate Barlow.
Green Lake is described as it was one hundred and ten years ago: a beautiful body of clear water with peach trees lining the shore. Miss Katherine Barlow was the teacher of the one room schoolhouse and she made wonderful spiced peaches that were preserved to last a year or longer. Charles Walker, or Trout Walker as he was known due to his horrible foot odor, came to classes that Miss Katherine taught. Trout did not come to learn, however. He was from the richest family in town and he wanted to marry Miss Katherine. One day he asked Miss Katherine to go on a ride with him in his new motorized boat. Trout is used to getting his own way so he is shocked and angry when Miss Katherine refuses to go with him.
At Camp Green Lake, Mr. Sir yells at a boy who comments on his face, which is swollen from the Warden’s rattlesnake venom. When Mr. Sir drives up to deliver water that day he doesn’t give any to Stanley.
When Stanley is caught stealing the sunflower seeds, he thinks that he is again in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in fact, had he not been caught, he would never have realized that the gold tube he found while digging his hole is actually half of a lipstick container. This series of events explores the nature of luck, asking if was Stanley in the wrong place at the wrong time, or in the right place at the right time. If he had not been brought to the Warden’s cabin for stealing Mr. Sir’s sunflower seeds then he would not have seen the Warden’s lipstick container and might never have realized that it looked the same as the gold tube he found. Because Stanley does have this realization, however, he obtains an important clue. He now has more information about what the Warden is looking for as she has the boys dig holes. Although Stanley’s great-grandfather thought he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was robbed by Kate Barlow, it is ultimately because of this robbery that he meets his wife, Stanley’s great-grandmother.
Holes questions the nature of fate. By finding Kate Barlow’s lipstick tube, Stanley has found not only a piece of history, but a piece of his own history. He has effectively linked the present with two separate stories in the past, that of the outlaw Kate Barlow and that of his own great-grandfather, the first Stanley Yelnats. The introduction of Kate Barlow as a school teacher who makes spiced peaches seems surprising when the reader also knows that she was a dangerous outlaw. Her character is an example of a person’s full story revealing more about them than their name might suggest. Although Stanley only guesses that the lipstick case he found may have belonged to Kate Barlow, the fact that the narrator informs the reader that Kate used to live near Green Lake allows the reader to assume that the case does belong to Kate. The facts of the mystery are slowly accumulating, and the reader has far more information than Stanley does.
The character of Trout Walker has many similarities to the character of the Warden. Both like to get their way and both have a lot of control over their surrounding area of Green Lake. In addition to realizing that the gold tube is a lipstick tube, Stanley’s visit to the Warden provides Zero the opportunity to do Stanley a favor. This in turn forces Stanley to re-think his behavior towards Zero. When Stanley and Zero agree to help each other with reading and hole digging, they are not forming the kind of authoritarian system that X-Ray and the Warden use, but rather a system of mutual benefit, which has the possibility of leading to real friendship. Neither Zero nor Stanley fears the other, and so their actions and their friendship is honest and genuine. This agreement also gives Stanley and Zero the chance to get to know one another beyond the point of what their names, or the other boys, say about them. Stanley discovers that Zero is very smart even though he does not talk a lot.
The narrator returns to Green Lake as it was one hundred and ten years ago. Sam the onion man sells onions and remedies made from onions to the town. He has a donkey named Mary Lou who pulls his cart of onions. Sam rows his boat across the lake to get to his secret onion field where the water runs uphill. He claims that onions are essential to a person’s health and while the towns-people go to the doctor for medicine, they also buy onion remedies from Sam. One day Miss Katherine asks Sam to fix the hole in the schoolhouse roof in exchange for some of her spiced peaches. Sam fixes the roof and he and Miss Katherine enjoy their conversations about poetry and other things. Sam cannot attend school because he is black. Miss Katherine continues to find things for Sam to fix because she likes their conversations. When the schoolhouse has nothing left to fix she tells Sam her heart is broken and he kisses her. One towns person, Hattie Parker, sees them and points at them, whispering, ” God will punish you.”
When Green Lake still had water, one hundred and ten years ago, the news spreads that Miss Katherine and Sam have kissed. At this time it is against the law for a black man to kiss a white woman and the angry town comes to the schoolhouse to attack Miss Katherine and her books. She runs to the sheriff for help and finds that he is drunk and preparing to hang Sam. When she asks him to help her he says, “Kiss me…You kissed the onion picker. Why won’t you kiss me?” Miss Katherine runs to find Sam and they climb into his boat. Sam is sad to leave Mary Lou behind but Katherine tells him they must hurry. Although Sam is strong, he cannot row faster than Trout Walker’s motorized boat. Walker crashes into Sam’s boat and Sam is shot and killed. Katherine is brought back to shore where she finds Mary Lou has been shot. After that day, not one drop of rain has ever fallen on Green Lake. The narrator addresses the reader by writing, “You make the decision: Whom did God punish?” Three days after Sam’s death Katherine Barlow kills the Sheriff and then applies lipstick before kissing his dead face. Then Katherine Barlow spends twenty years as a dangerous outlaw in the West, known as Kissin’ Kate Barlow.
Stanley continues digging holes but now he rations his water carefully because he knows that if Mr. Sir comes with water he will not fill Stanley’s canteen. One day Mr. Sir fills Stanley’s canteen but takes it where Stanley cannot see it before returning it. Stanley pours it out because he fears that Mr. Sir has put something horrible in it. When Zero spends an hour digging Stanley’s hole the other boys mock Stanley for having a slave. X-Ray says, ” Same old story…the while boy sits while the black boy does all the work.” Stanley continues to teach Zero, who is a fast learner. One day Zero writes his name and tells Stanley that his real name is Hector Zeroni.
After twenty years of being an outlaw, Kate Barlow returns to Green Lake. There are two oak trees growing near a cabin and she lives there, imagining that Sam is with her. After three months there, Trout Walker and his wife, the redhead Linda Miller, tie Kate up while she is sleeping. Trout has lost all his money and demands to know where Kate’s outlaw loot is. Trout and Linda make Kate walk barefoot across the hot sand until Kate dies from the bite of a yellow-spotted lizard. Kate never tells them where the money is.
The weather gets hotter at Camp Green Lake. One day Stanley sees that the sky is dark near the mountains in the west. There is thunder and lightning but no rain. During a flash of lightning Stanley thinks one of the mountains looks like a giant fist with a thumb sticking up. He thinks of how his stranded great- grandfather said he had found refuge on God’s thumb.
Holes is a novel which asks the reader to sympathize with characters who have been deemed unacceptable by society. With the exception of Stanley, the boys are all criminals, and yet they are the heroes of the story. In this section, the story of how Kate Barlow becomes an outlaw allows us to feel sympathy for a woman who was initially presented as a dangerous criminal. Her cruelty as an outlaw is a direct result of the cruelty that she and Sam faced from the racism of the law and the racism of Green Lake’s citizens. Kate is presented as having no options other than the path of an outlaw if she is to avenge the death of Sam. This obvious example of cruelty causing more cruelty reflects the situation at Camp Green Lake, where the boys who are treated harshly by adults act cruelly towards each other as a result.
In addition, the revelation of Kate’s story provides definite proof that the Warden is seeking Kate’s long lost treasure under the ground. It seems very likely that the Warden, with her red hair and freckles, is a descendent of Trout and Linda Walker who tried to torture Kate into revealing where the buried treasure was. The Warden has inherited not only the physical characteristics of red hair and freckles from her ancestors, but also their cruel personalities. The fact that Zero’s real name is Hector Zeroni reveals another relation: Zero is a descendent of Madame Zeroni, the gypsy who may have put a curse on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather. Although neither Stanley nor Hector is aware of the connection that exists between their families, the reader can put together the pieces and form almost the entire puzzle of Stanley’s history. Once Stanley realizes that a mountain in the distance looks like a big thumb, it is evident (at least to the reader who has the benefit of an omniscient narration) that Camp Green Lake is very close to the site where Kate Barlow robbed Stanley’s great-grandfather.
The way that the author mixes the past and present in the story reinforces the idea that the stories are parallel in many ways. Not only is Stanley digging on the same ground where his great-grandfather and Kate Barlow once walked, but he is digging with the relative of his great-great-grandfather’s friend Madame Zeroni. The situations and characteristics of the people in one era are similar in many ways to the situations and characteristics of the people in another era. Just as Stanley’s family curse has followed his family for generations, so personal traits and problems are passed down with successive generations. While Zero and Stanley are becoming friends and helping each other out, they are also threatening X-Ray’s system of control. The boys are jealous that Zero digs part of Stanley’s hole each day but the issue that really upsets them, especially X- Ray, is that Zero and Stanley no longer care what the other boys think of them.
While Stanley spends another day digging holes, he thinks about God’s thumb and wonders if Kate Barlow lived in this area and if it was actually her gold lipstick tube that he found. When Mr. Pendanski delivers their bag lunches the other boys taunt Stanley about having Zero dig Stanley’s hole for him. Zigzag pushes Stanley, who doesn’t want to fight. Mr. Pendanski comes over and tells Stanley to fight back. Stanley softly hits Zigzag who in return pummels Stanley and jumps on top of him. Zero attacks Zigzag and almost kills him until Armpit breaks them up. Mr. Pendanski fires his pistol into the air and the Warden arrives. The boys tell the Warden that Zero has been digging some of Stanley’s hole. Stanley explains that he’s teaching Zero to read and Mr. Pendanski says, ” You might as well try to teach this shovel to read! It’s got more brains than Zero.” The Warden spells some words for Zero and when he pronounces h-a-t as chat everyone laughs at him. The Warden forbids Stanley to teach Zero to read and Mr. Pendanski taunts Zero about how stupid he is. Zero says that he will not dig any more holes and when Mr. Pendanski tells him that digging holes is all he’ll ever be good for, Zero smashes his shovel across Mr. Pendanski’s face and runs away. The Warden tells the other counselors not to bother about Zero because he’ll have to return for water. Then she says that the remaining six boys must still dig seven holes.
Stanley is angry with everyone, including himself. He regrets having Zero dig his hole for him. He considers ways to help Zero but can not think of any that do not involve retribution from the Warden. He hopes that Zero will travel to the mountain that looks like a thumb. Mr. Pendanski and the Warden ask Stanley if he knows where Zero is and then they discuss how they will change Zero’s records so that no one will ever find him. Mr. Peandanski and the Warden say that they do not want anyone in the A.G.’s office to know about Zero. In the end they decide that no one will care about Zero.
A new boy, who was arrested for stealing cars, is assigned to Zero’s cot. His name is Brian but X-Ray names him Twitch because he fidgets. Stanley continues to worry about Zero and when Mr. Sir drives in the truck to give them water, Stanley impulsively decides to steal it. He doesn’t know how to drive but Twitch yells a few directions at him and Stanley races away. Soon Stanley drives the truck into a hole. He gets out and runs away.
No one follows Stanley as he runs away from the truck. He encounters many holes as he walks, and a family of yellow-spotted lizards in one of them. He runs away from the lizards and later finds one sunflower seed in a burlap bag.
Stanley walks towards the thumb mountain but is exhausted. He sees something in the dirt and finds that it is part of a boat named Mary Lou. There is a hole under the boat and Zero is in it.
Zero looks sick but refuses to go back to camp. Stanley and Zero go under the boat where it is cooler. Zero still has his shovel that he used to hit Mr. Pendanski. Zero has found many jars of a muddy looking liquid that he calls sploosh. Stanley doesn’t want to drink it because he realizes that it is probably at least 100 years old, but he is so thirsty that he does. It tastes like peaches. Zero and Stanley have to break the top off the last bottle of sploosh because it is sealed very tightly. Zero has a bad stomachache and Stanley thinks it might be from the sploosh.
The novel establishes links between the past and the present. Just as the town of Green Lake’s violence towards Katherine Barlow and Sam forced Kate to turn to violence and crime one hundred and ten years ago, so Mr. Pendanski’s repeated taunting eventually drives Zero towards violence. Mr. Pendanski, who has always shown signs of being cruel underneath his kind façade, begins to show his true colors as he taunts Zero. Far from wanting every boy to turn his life around, Mr. Pendanski seems to want to keep Zero in his dead-end situation at Camp Green Lake. Stanley realizes that people should be proud of Zero for not only learning how to read, but for wanting to read. The Warden and Mr. Pendanski, on the other hand, seem determined to keep Zero from learning anything. Kate’s story becomes directly intertwined with Zero and Stanley’s story when Zero finds shelter in Sam’s old boat, MaryLou.
The “sploosh” that Zero survives on is undoubtedly the celebrated spiced peaches that Katherine made during her days as a school teacher. The objects that remain from Sam and Kate Barlow, like the spiced peaches and the broken boat, aid Zero and Stanley in their struggle to escape the persecution and cruelty of Camp Green Lake, which is similar to the persecution and cruelty that Kate and Sam faced one hundred and ten years ago from the citizens of Green Lake. Stanley demonstrates his changed character when he steals Mr. Sir’s truck. Although he knows that the Warden will surely punish him if and when she finds him, Stanley is brave enough to leave camp in order to try and help his friend. This willingness to suffer in order to help Zero shows that Stanley is not only brave, but also a good friend. He and Zero have successfully broken the Warden’s system of authority and they are willing to help each other. Although the Warden and Mr. Pendanski decide that no one will care about Zero, Stanley proves them wrong by trying to help Zero on his own. The pieces of the mystery are almost all in place at this time. Katherine Barlow and her connection to Stanley’s life and history is clear, the Warden’s desire to have the boys dig for Kate’s treasure has been revealed, and Zero and Stanley’s family ties have also been discovered by the reader. What is left now is to discover how Zero and Stanley will survive in the unfriendly desert with dangerous lizards and the constant threat of dehydration. Obviously, God’s thumb will be their source of refuge but what they find there is still unknown. In addition, the Warden mentions the A.G., a new and mysterious character.
Zero and Stanley head towards God’s thumb, periodically giving each other the thumbs up sign for reassurance as they walk. They carry Zero’s shovel and four of the unbroken sploosh jars in the burlap sunflower seed sack. Zero often has severe attacks of stomach pain. Stanley spells words for Zero to keep him occupied. They climb up towards the thumb. At one point Zero uses the shovel to help Stanley up part of a cliff. This causes Zero, who is already weak and sick, to get big cuts in his hands.
Stanley and Zero continue towards the thumb but Zero throws up along the way.
Zero has passed out and Stanley leaves the shovel and jars on the ground so that he can carry Zero up the mountain. There is a bitter smell in the air and mud on the ground when Stanley reaches the top of the mountain. Stanley realizes that mud means there is water nearby and this renews his strength. He digs an onion out of the mud and he and Zero both eat half of it.
Stanley wakes to find himself in the middle of a giant meadow. Zero is still very sick but tells Stanley that it was he, Zero, who stole Clyde Livingston’s shoes from the homeless shelter. He apologizes to Stanley and Stanley sings Zero the song that Madame Zeroni taught his great-great- grandfather.
Stanley digs up another onion and the narration shifts back to one hundred and ten years ago when Sam was selling onions. A woman thanks Sam for an onion remedy that saved her daughter’s life. The narration shifts again to Stanley and Zero who spend two days eating onions and drinking dirty water from pools of mud. Stanley heads back down the mountain to find the shovel and jars he left behind. He is stunned at the distance that he covered while carrying Zero.
Zero gets better and tells Stanley that he was homeless before he came to Camp Green Lake. He often went to the homeless shelter that Clyde Livingston’s shoes were in. Zero took the shoes because he thought it was better to take a pair of old shoes than to steal a pair of new shoes. He couldn’t read the sign explaining whose shoes they were. Zero was wearing the shoes when people at the shelter discovered they were stolen. Everyone was so upset about the stolen shoes that Zero ran outside and places the shoes on top of a parked car. The next day Zero was arrested when he stole a new pair of shoes.
Zero and Stanley make a large hole for water with the shovel. Stanley realizes that he is happier than he has ever been before. He realizes he is happy he got arrested because now he has a friend and likes himself as well. Stanley thinks about secretly returning to camp and digging up the treasure that may be in the hole where he found the lipstick container.
Zero and Stanley pack water in the bottles and onions in the sack and plan to return to Camp in an attempt to dig up treasure and then escape. They wait until daylight before leaving. While they wait, Zero tells Stanley more about his life. Zero remembers his mother singing him the same song that Stanley sang, only with different words. One day Zero’s mother left him in a park and told him to wait for her. He waited for a month, but she never returned. As they return to Camp Green Lake, Zero steers them in the right direction after Stanley takes a wrong turn. They reach camp and hide near the hole that Stanley found the lipstick tube in.
Stanley and Zero demonstrate their commitment to each other and their true friendship. They each make sacrifices for the other which show that they honestly want to help each other and are not just helping each other in order to attain some benefit for themselves. When they reach God’s thumb it becomes clear that this is Sam’s old onion patch, a place where, according to Sam, water runs uphill. At this point the real parallels between Elya Yelnats and Madame Zeroni’s story and Stanley and Zero’s story become clear. Elya Yelnats promised to carry Madame Zeroni up a mountain to a stream where the water ran uphill and then sing her the song about the wolf and the woodpecker. Although Elya never fulfilles this promise, his descendent, Stanley Yelnats, carries Madame Zeroni’s descendent up a hill to a place where the water runs uphill and then sings him that same song. By doing this, Stanley demonstrates true dedication and perseverance, qualities that Elya obviously lacked when he broke his promise to Madame Zeroni.
The fact that Zero is the one who stole Clyde Livingston’s shoes brings up the issue of fate. The set of coincidences that results in both Stanley and Zero being at Camp Green Lake is so extraordinary that it appears as if the hand of fate pushed a Yelnats and a Zeroni together again. While fate landed Zero and Stanley in Camp Green Lake, it is entirely their own actions of friendship that helped them to reach the onion field on top of the thumb-shaped mountain. A knowledge of history helps explain Zero’s miraculous recovery atop the mountain. Sam once saved a girl who was suffering from stomach problems by giving her onion remedies and these same onions help Zero recover more than one hundred years later. This information reinforces the theme of cycles that repeat themselves throughout the ages. Another similarity between characters is the fact that Zero often went to the same homeless shelter that Clyde Livingston, the famous baseball player, once lived at. Being homeless is a clear disadvantage but the reader knows that Livingston went on to become a successful baseball player and it now appears that Zero might succeed as well. Zero has already improved his reading skills dramatically and it is obvious that he is naturally very intelligent. If he and Stanley escape Camp Green Lake then Zero has a good chance of becoming successful himself.
After dark, Stanley digs in the hole and Zero sneaks into camp to get water and food. Zero finds frosted flakes, which he and Stanley both find revoltingly sweet after more than a week of eating only onions. Stanley and Zero finally dig up a suitcase and just as they are preparing to leave a light shines in their faces and they find the Warden standing in front of them.
The Warden shines a flashlight on Zero, who is holding the suitcase until she sees that there is a deadly yellow-spotted lizard on the suitcase. Stanley realizes he is standing in a lizard’s nest. The Warden, along with Mr. Pendanski and Mr. Sir, wait for the lizards to leave. The Warden talks about how she grew up digging holes with her parents, looking for the suitcase. Mr. Sir makes reference to a woman asking questions and the A.G.
While Stanley and Zero try to stay still, the Warden, Mr. Pendanski, and Mr. Sir discuss what to tell “the woman” and “the A.G.”. Mr. Pendanski cruelly laughs that there will be plenty of graves to bury Stanley and Zero in after they die. The Warden says she will tell “the woman” that Stanley was delirious and ran away and the lizard bit him. Mr. Sir tells Stanley that Stanley’s lawyer had shown up the day before to say that Stanley is innocent of stealing the shoes.
As the sun comes out, the lizards crawl away from Stanley. Zero asks him if his first name is his last name spelled backwards. Mr. Pendanski arrives with a woman and a man. The woman says she is Stanley’s lawyer and tells the Warden that she will file charges against not only the Warden but also against the entire state of Texas if anything bad happens to Stanley. The Warden says that Stanley stole the suitcase that Zero is holding. The lizards scurry away and the Warden tries to take the suitcase from Zero but he says it belongs to Stanley. Zero shows everyone the other side of the suitcase where the name Stanley Yelnats is printed.
Stanley’s lawyer’s name is Ms. Morengo and the man with her is the A. G., the Attorney General. The Warden says that Stanley does not even know what is in the suitcase and demands that he open it. Ms. Morengo tells Stanley not to open the suitcase and that he can leave freely. Stanley refuses to leave without Hector. Ms. Morengo demands to see Hector’s records but because Mr. Pendanski has erased m any of them, they cannot be found. Ms. Morengo takes Hector and Stanley but before they leave Squid gives Stanley his mother’s phone number and asks Stanley to call her and say that Alan (Squid) is sorry.
The narrator relates how yellow-spotted lizards never appeared in Green Lake until after the lake dried up. One hundred and ten years ago people used to hunt rattlesnakes in the desert and they knew there were lizards there. Sam gives rattlesnake hunters onion juice to drink because lizards won’t bite people with onion blood. Back in the present day, Ms. Morengo shows Stanley and Zero the cure for foot odor that Stanley’s father has invented. It smells like peaches. Ms. Morengo tells Stanley that the sneakers were stolen at 3:15 pm and that Derrick Dunne said that at 3:20 Stanley was still fishing his notebook from the toilet in the boy’s bathroom. This proved that Stanley didn’t steal the sneakers. Zero says that he stole the sneakers and Ms. Morengo pretends not to hear him and tells him not to say it again. For the first time in over 100 years, rain falls on Camp Green Lake.
The narrator fills in some of the “holes” in the plot. Stanley’s father invented his cure for foot odor the day after the great-great-grandson of Elya Yelnats carried the great-great-great-grandson of Madame Zeroni up the mountain. Camp Green Lake was closed and the Warden, Ms. Walker, was forced to sell her family’s land. The camp will soon be a Girl Scout camp. The suitcase contained some jewels and many valuable deeds and stocks. Stanley and Hector each received almost a million dollars from these finds. Stanley buys his family a house and Hector hires a private investigator to find his mother. The narrator speaks directly to the reader, saying that although the reader is sure to have more questions, a scene at the Yelnat’s house will best explain Stanley and Hector’s situation. Stanley and Hector watch a commercial in which Clyde Livingston advertises sploosh, Stanley’s father’s cure for foot odor. Clyde Livingston is at Stanley’s house in person, watching the commercial as well. Hector sits with a woman who looks just like him. She sings him the same song that Madame Zeroni taught Elya Yelnats.
Once again, the history of Sam and his onion remedies explains events that occur in the present day. Stanley and Hector (Zero) avoid being bitten by the deadly yellow-spotted lizards because they have been eating nothing but onions for more than a week. This fact makes the lizards, which appear to be a menace, into a help for Stanley and Hector, successfully keeping the Warden away from them until Stanley’s lawyer arrives to help them. The story of the lizards is another device that the author uses to suggest that fate has a hand in Stanley and Hector’s story. Although Stanley’s family has had bad luck for generations, all of the unlucky events have lined up to help Stanley and Hector in some way. This suggests that everything has happened for a reason and that instead of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time, perhaps Stanley has been in the right place at the right time.
When Stanley and Hector are given the freedom to leave Camp Green Lake, some of the other boys are liberated as well. Squid, who has always taunted Stanley about his correspondence with his mother, feels able to ask Stanley to help him contact his mom in order to apologize. Squid’s meanness towards Stanley is really the result of insecurity and jealousy. The other boys also give up their jealous natures and seem genuinely happy for Stanley and Hector when they leave Camp Green Lake. This emotional release is mirrored by the rain that falls on the camp, which is a symbol that the curse of Green Lake is finally over. As Stanley is returned to his parents, so Hector is able to locate his mother. By caring about Hector himself, Stanley effectively enables him to find his family. The Warden and Mr. Pendanski thought that no one would care about Hector because, being mean people themselves, they underestimated the power of friendship. Just as in a fable or fairy-tale, there are many morals at the end of Holes. Fate is shown to be a powerful force, friendship and family is proven to be an important role in everyone’s lives, the destructive power of meanness and cruelty is demonstrated, and the importance of loyalty and fulfilling promises is emphasized. By linking three separate stories that occur in different time periods, the narrator also shows how all actions lead to reactions and that history is an important force in everyone’s life.