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FREE LITERARY ANALYSIS FOR HOLES BY LOUIS SACHAR
Stanley feels sorry for himself. The one time he is lucky (finding the gold tube) he will not get credit. At breakfast he asks X-Ray if he has “it.” X-Ray rudely replies that he doesn’t know what Stanley is talking about.
While digging Stanley wonders why X-Ray snapped at him. When the water truck comes X-Ray does not mention the tube.
Then, at the last instant, before Mr. Pendanski leaves, X-Ray shouts from his hole that he has found something. Mr. Pendanski says that the Warden will be pleased and leaves.
Shortly, Mr. Pendanski returns with the Warden, a red-haired, freckled woman in a black cowboy hat and turquoise studded boots. She gives X-Ray the day off and tells Mr. Pendanski to fill the other boys’ canteens. She is angered when he replies that he has just filled them. She calls Caveman over to show Mr. Pendanski that there is room for more water in the canteen. Stanley wonders how she knows his nickname. The Warden admonishes Mr. Pendanski for questioning her and threatens to make him dig holes.
The Warden and X-Ray use the same approach to maintain authority - rewards and threats. She rewarded X-Ray with the day off the same way X-Ray rewarded Stanley with advancement in the line. Like X-Ray, she achieves loyalty because others fear her.
X-Ray is driven back to the camp and Mr. Pendanski is instructed to return with three wheelbarrows. Calling the remaining boys by their nicknames, the Warden pairs them up, one to continue digging and one to sift through the excavated dirt and load it into a wheelbarrow. She offers the day off and a double shower to anyone who finds something. The canteens are continuously refilled. The Warden stays and watches the dig nervously. Finally, she calls it a day and leaves.
Zigzag explains to Stanley that there are tiny hidden cameras all over the camp Stanley realizes that that is how the Warden knew his nickname, and that is why X-Ray snubbed him that morning. He also realizes they are not digging to “build character” but to find something specific. He knows they are digging in the wrong place and memorizes the location of the hole where he had actually found the gold tube the day before.
The Warden has absolute power and bestows privileges at her own discretion. She has the boys team up and provides them with water and the promise of rewards because she believes they will find what she is after. The novel now becomes a puzzle as the reader wonders what the significance the initialed gold tube has and how the knowledge of the true location of its burial will affect Stanley.
All the boys are exhausted at the end of the day except X-Ray. The next day, accompanied by the Warden, the boys continue digging and wheelbarrowing. As he works, Stanley thinks about the gold tube and tries to figure out what the initials KB might be. The Warden becomes impatient and threatens to make Mr. Sir dig if he does not make the boys work faster. Mr. Sir reminds the boys they are not in the Girl Scouts. Group D works later than any other group.
That evening, while considering telling the Warden the truth, Stanley receives a letter from his mother. The other boys start to tease him but X-Ray calls them off. When the boys leave Stanley reads the letter. His mother writes that she is proud Stanley is doing well at camp and that the family may be evicted because of the foul sneaker smell from his father’s experiments. She quips about the old lady who lived in a shoe. Once again, Zero is looking over Stanley’s shoulder.
Stanley tries to explain his mother’s joke but Zero appears to have no knowledge of nursery rhymes.
The system of rewards and threats persists. The boys are not accomplishing the Warden’s goal so she becomes threatening, thus maintaining her absolute authority. X-Ray rewards Stanley by making room for Stanley on the couch and sticking up for Stanley when teased about his mother’s letter.
The reader is given no additional information about the engraved gold tube. But we learn a little more about Zero and now wonder what is behind his blank stares.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version