Holes (novel)

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Holes
Sachar - Holes Coverart.png
First edition cover
Author(s)Louis Sachar
Cover artistVladimir Radunsky
LanguageAdventure, Satire
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux (US)
Bloomsbury (UK)
Ediciones SM (Spain)
Publication dateAugust 20, 1998
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
Pages241 pp (first edition)
233 pp (second ed.)
497 pp (on iPad)
ISBN978-0-440-41480-3
OCLC Number3800257333232
Dewey Decimal[Fic] 21
LC ClassificationPZ7.S1185 Ho 1998
Followed byStanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake
 
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Holes
Sachar - Holes Coverart.png
First edition cover
Author(s)Louis Sachar
Cover artistVladimir Radunsky
LanguageAdventure, Satire
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux (US)
Bloomsbury (UK)
Ediciones SM (Spain)
Publication dateAugust 20, 1998
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
Pages241 pp (first edition)
233 pp (second ed.)
497 pp (on iPad)
ISBN978-0-440-41480-3
OCLC Number3800257333232
Dewey Decimal[Fic] 21
LC ClassificationPZ7.S1185 Ho 1998
Followed byStanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake

Holes is a 1998 young adults novel written by Louis Sachar and first published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It won the 1999 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature[1] and the 1999 Newbery Medal for the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children".[2] Originally, the book was to be called Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Kid. It was adapted into a film by Walt Disney Pictures and released in 2003.

Contents

Plot[edit]

Stanley Yelnats IV, an overweight teenage boy who is supposedly affected by a family "curse" which has brought his family bad luck since his great-great-grandfather's time, has been wrongly accused of stealing the shoes of the baseball player Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston. Years ago, Stanley's family was cursed by Madame Zeroni, a fortune-teller and ancestor, due to a promise not fulfilled by Elya Yelnats, Stanley's great-great-grandfather. Livingston had donated the shoes, which are worth a great deal of money, to a homeless shelter, but they literally fall on Stanley from the sky. He is soon arrested and no one believes him about the shoes falling from the sky. As punishment for this crime, he is given the choice of either going to jail or to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention and correctional facility in the middle of nowhere in which the young inmates are forced to dig five-foot holes to "build their character". When he arrives at the desolate place, he is warned by the supervisor, a man named Mr. Sir, not to cross Warden Walker. The Warden is actually looking for the buried treasure that an outlaw named Katherine "Kissin' Kate" Barlow stole from Stanley's great-grandfather, the first Stanley Yelnats.

At Camp Green Lake, Stanley befriends Hector "Zero" Zeroni, who gets in trouble and runs away. Stanley soon follows in concern for his safety. Zero had been living on jars of very old rotted spiced peaches that he had found in the boat, Mary Lou, which he called "Sploosh". Upon seeing a mountain resembling a human fist giving the thumbs up sign, Stanley recalls the story of his ancestor Stanley Yelnats, the first, who finds "refuge on God’s thumb", which Zero and Stanley climb in search of water and food. Stanley carries Zero up the mountain, fulfilling the task his great-great-grandfather neglected to do with Zero's great-great-great grandmother, which lifts the curse placed on the Yelnats family.

Atop the mountain, Stanley discovers a field of onions, which the boys eat, and a pool of groundwater, which they drink, and during their contentment Stanley sings to Zero and says that they should return to Camp Green Lake to find the buried treasure. Upon returning, Zero steals some water and food from the kitchens while Stanley looks for the buried treasure. At this they succeed, but are apprehended by the Warden and the camp staff, and become surrounded by a group of lethal yellow-spotted lizards. Because the boys have consumed onions, the lizards do not bite them. Unable to leave the hole they occupy, they remain in place until the next morning, during which an attorney arrives requesting Stanley’s release. When the warden demands the suitcase, Zero indicates the name ‘Stanley Yelnats’ written on it, its contents being the jewels, deeds, stocks and promissory notes stolen from Stanley Yelnats, Sr..

Protagonist Stanley IV then uses the bonds to buy a new house for his family, and Zero hires a team of investigators to find his missing mother; meanwhile, the drought at Green Lake is replaced by rainfall, as if in response to Stanley's fulfilment of his ancestor's promise (a suggestion left purposely ambiguous by the narration). In a final scene, Clyde Livingston, along with the Yelnats and Zeroni families, celebrates the success of Stanley’s father's antidote to foot odor, composed of preserved and fermented spiced peaches and named "Sploosh" by Zero. The warden is forced to sell Camp Green Lake to the state government, who turns it into a Girl Scout camp.

Characters[edit]

[original research?]

Stanley Yelnats[edit]

Stanley is the unlikely hero of Holes. He is an overweight boy who does not have any friends from school and is often picked on by his classmates and the school bully, Derrick Dunne. Stanley's family is cursed with bad luck and although they do not have much money they always try to remain hopeful and look on the bright side of things. Stanley shares these traits with his family and although he does not have a lot of self-confidence, he is not easily depressed, a characteristic that helps him adjust to the horrendous conditions of Camp Green Lake. As the book progresses, Stanley slowly develops physical strength and personal strength. He identifies the people who threaten him, like the Warden, and while he tries not to get in trouble he also stands up for his own right and the rights of his friends. Stanley gradually develops the self-confidence necessary to disregard the opinions of the majority of the boys and form a friendship with Zero, the least popular kid in the camp. Although the cruelty of those around him initially causes Stanley to become hard and treat Zero with contempt, he eventually realizes that what he is doing and he and Zero form a strong friendship. They each make sacrifices for one another and by the time that he leaves Camp Green Lake, Stanley is physically and emotionally stronger.

Zero[edit]

Zero's real name is Hector Zeroni, but he has been called Zero for most of his life. He has been homeless for most of his life, and his mother abandoned (or lost) him when he was still small. Zero has not had much of an education so he does not know how to read or write. Despite all the adversity that he has faced, Zero knows that he is smart and he has a sense of standing up for himself. At first he is presented as a strange character because he rarely speaks and always walks around with a scowl on his face. Eventually, when Zero becomes friends with Stanley, the reader learns that Zero is silent because he does not like answering questions and most likely because he is wary of people like Mr. Pendanski, who always mock him. Zero has suffered so much hardship in his life that he eventually cannot stand Camp Green Lake anymore and he runs away. He has a generous spirit, exemplified by the fact that he shares his last jar of "sploosh" with Stanley after he has run away. As Stanley gains self-confidence, Zero begins to talk more and scowl less. Zero is also very honest and although he steals because he lives on the street, he tries to steal less valuable things so that people will not mind as much. It is really Zero who has stolen the shoes that Stanley was accused of stealing and Zero feels bad for Stanley and apologizes for stealing them. His ancestor was Madam Zeroni.

X-Ray[edit]

X-Ray is the unofficial head of the group of boys in tent D at Camp Green Lake. X-Ray decides that Stanley will be called Caveman and fixes the order of the line for water. X-Ray maintains his position as the leader of the boys even though he is one of the smallest boys and can barely see without his glasses. He convinces Stanley to give him the gold tube that Stanley finds in the dirt so that he can have the day off instead of Stanley. X-Ray is able to maintain his position at the head of the group through a system of rewards and allies. Every time that Stanley does something nice for X-Ray, X-Ray is nice to Stanley and stands up for him when the other boys pick on him. When Stanley becomes friends with Zero, however, X-Ray's system is threatened and he becomes hostile towards Stanley. When Stanley and Zero are released from the camp all of the boys come over to congratulate them except for X-Ray. It is clear that X-Ray is not only jealous but also threatened that more attention is being paid to Stanley and Zero. X-Ray's authority is being questioned by this attention and X-Ray does not have a way of handling this.

Katherine Barlow[edit]

Katherine Barlow is a sweet and intelligent woman who teaches in a one-room school house on Green Lake one hundred and ten years before it becomes Camp Green Lake. She falls in love with Sam, the man who sells onions in the town, because he is kind, strong, and smart. Although the rest of the white people in the town are racist and enforce rules that prohibit blacks from going to school, Kate (who is white) does not care about the color of a person's skin and she loves Sam (who is black) for the person that he is. When Kate and Sam kiss the town grows angry and kills Sam. Kate is devastated by Sam's death and decided to have revenge. She becomes Kissin' Kate Barlow, one of the most feared outlaws in the west. Although Kate is still responsible for the cruelty that she perpetrates, it is clear that if she and Sam had not suffered so much cruelty at the hands of others she would have retained her warm and helpful personality. Kate is one of the many examples in the book of a person who sounds cruel or bad but in reality is simply unlucky and misunderstood.

Setting[edit]

Camp Green Lake is located in Green Lake, Texas and on a dried up lake. It wasn't green either.

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2003, Walt Disney Pictures released a film version of Holes, which was directed by Andrew Davis and written by Louis Sachar.[3] The film was a modest success at the box office and a critical success.

Sequels[edit]

Two companion novels have followed Holes: Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake (2003) and Small Steps (2006).[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Out of the Dust
Newbery Medal recipient
1999
Succeeded by
Bud, Not Buddy
Preceded by
New category
Winner of the
William Allen White Children's Book Award
Grades 6–8

2001
Succeeded by
Bud, Not Buddy

Awards 2000 Black Eyed Susan