Literature Study GuidesHolesPart 1 Chapters 13 15 Summary

Holes | Study Guide

Louis Sachar

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Course Hero, "Holes Study Guide," June 7, 2019, accessed December 14, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Holes/.

Holes | Part 1, Chapters 13–15 : You Are Entering Camp Green Lake | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 13

On Stanley's third full day at Camp Green Lake, he decides the third hole is indeed the worst. In fact every day's hole is the hardest one to dig.

Soon Stanley loses track of the days. He is losing weight and getting stronger. The skin on his hands has toughened. But he is miserable, hot, and thirsty. He feels like he is digging one endless hole.

One day Stanley spots a tiny flash of gold in his dirt pile. He is almost too exhausted to investigate, but when he does, he finds a tiny, gold tube with the initials KB on it. He thinks it looks familiar, but he isn't sure what the tube is for, or who KB could be.

Stanley doesn't want to give the tube to X-Ray, but he can't think of a way to avoid it. He hands it over, and the boys cluster around, debating whether it counts as interesting enough to get X-Ray the day off. X-Ray says he will show it to Mr. Pendanski, but Stanley advises him to wait until morning. X-Ray is almost finished digging for the day. If he waits, he can skip digging a hole tomorrow.

Normally when the water truck comes, the boys line up in a particular order. Until today Stanley has always stood at the back of the line. Today X-Ray tells Stanley to stand in front of Zero.

Chapter 14

The next morning, when Mr. Pendanski brings the water truck to the spot where the boys are digging, X-Ray shows him the little tube. Mr. Pendanski takes it away excitedly, and a few minutes later he returns with the Warden.

The Warden is a tall, red-haired woman in fancy cowboy boots. She gives X-Ray the rest of the day off, and she instructs Mr. Pendanski to fill everyone else's canteens. Mr. Pendanski shrugs off this order, saying he just filled them. The Warden seems furious at this refusal to immediately obey her. She threatens to make Mr. Pendanski dig and let Stanley fill the water bottles.

Chapter 15

After X-Ray leaves, the Warden organizes the other six boys into pairs. One boy in each pair digs, and the other sifts through the dirt from the hole, looking for anything interesting. She stays nearby while they work, making sure they all have enough water and forcing them to dig deeper than usual.

This tells Stanley the purpose of digging holes at Camp Green Lake isn't to turn bad boys into good boys. Something is buried in the lake bed, and the Warden wants to find it.

But Stanley knows they are digging in the wrong place. He looks out to where he was digging yesterday, memorizing the exact spot.

Analysis

As Stanley digs more holes, he tells himself each one is the worst. He starts to lose track of the days of the week. Soon, however, he realizes digging is changing him. He is losing weight and gaining strength. Yet he notices these changes with only passing interest. He is focused on his misery and discomfort as he deals with the drudgery of life at Camp Green Lake.

When Stanley notices something unusual during a dig, he can barely muster enough energy to care. That's how dispirited he is. When he realizes he has found a small, gold object, he is surprised because he sees himself as an unlucky person. Yet in the outside world he still felt a sense of hopefulness, something his weeks at Camp Green Lake have started to erode. He only briefly considers taking the object to the Warden himself before he hands it over to X-Ray. Stanley doesn't believe he can stand up to X-Ray.

In the early chapters, Stanley often seems weak and passive, and because of this, it is hard to see signs of his intelligence. When he does make smart choices, they usually involve keeping his mouth shut or obeying others to avoid upsetting them. But Stanley is a very smart kid who has some good ideas when he chooses to think for himself. One such idea surfaces when he tells X-Ray to wait until tomorrow to turn in the object. Stanley reasons this will give X-Ray most of a day off instead of just an hour or two.

This smart idea affects the rest of the story. Although much of what happens next results from generations-old curses and wild coincidences, Stanley's choices also have profound effects. This is part of the power of the story.

There is a clear pecking order among the boys at Camp Green Lake, and X-Ray is in charge. After helping X-Ray, Stanley is rewarded with a change in status. One signifier of status is the order in which the boys line up to wait for the water truck. Since arriving at camp, Stanley has always stood at the back of this line. Now X-Ray lets him move up a space, taking the spot ahead of Zero. Again Stanley shows his intelligence by interpreting this as a sign of his increasing rank at Camp Green Lake.

When X-Ray turns in the little gold tube Stanley found, the Warden makes her first appearance. She is a proud, decisive person who expects total obedience from everyone around her. This expectation not only extends to the campers but also to the counselors. And when Mr. Pendanski even questions one of her orders, her reaction is positively dictatorial. She intentionally humiliates him in front of the campers, threatening to make him dig holes all day too.

Mr. Pendanski's reaction to this bullying mirrors the boys' reactions to him. He doesn't fight back or show any emotions at all. Instead he passively follows her orders. His behavior makes it seem the Warden truly has the power to make him dig alongside the campers. This is strange considering the campers are convicted criminals and Mr. Pendanski presumably isn't. If he chooses to stay in a job with a boss who treats him this way, he must have a good reason.

In Chapter 15 both Stanley and readers find out for sure the digging at Camp Green Lake has a practical purpose. The Warden wants to find something, and her behavior shows she wants it very much. At first she shows this by hovering over the boys and treating them with unusual kindness. But she also forces them to work longer than usual.

The narrator reveals only Stanley's thoughts, but he is probably not the only boy who realizes they are looking for something. None of the boys tell the Warden where the little gold tube really was found, which shows they are more afraid to be punished for lying than motivated by hope of reward. It also suggests they feel no particular desire to help the adults who control their lives.

When Stanley memorizes the spot where he found the little gold tube, he is making another choice that will later help determine his fate. At this point it seems like more bad luck—or at least bad news—that the Warden is focused on digging in the wrong spot. Later it will seem like a lucky coincidence.

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