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Literature Study GuidesHolesPart 1 Chapters 8 9 Summary

Holes | Study Guide

Louis Sachar

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Holes | Part 1, Chapters 8–9 : You Are Entering Camp Green Lake | Summary



Chapter 8

In this chapter the omniscient narrator steps briefly out of the story to reflect on curses. After noting some people think curses aren't real, the narrator says some people think yellow-spotted lizards aren't real, either. But "if one bites you, it doesn't make a difference whether you believe in it or not."

The yellow-spotted lizard—which, fortunately, exists only in this book—has 11 spots, which are very hard to see. It also has red skin around its eyes, black teeth, and a white tongue. Most people who get close enough to see the yellow spots end up dead. The lizard lives in holes, which allows it to avoid the heat of the sun. It eats animals and plant matter such as sunflower seed shells.

Chapter 9

After he digs his first hole, Stanley takes a four-minute shower—the maximum shower time allowed. Then he heads to the rec room, which is labeled "Wreck Room." It appears the campers have done their best to wreck everything in it, including the TV and the furniture.

On his way in, Stanley trips over the leg of a large boy who looks like a lump. The Lump takes offense and seems to be about to beat Stanley up. X-Ray appears at Stanley's side and says not to bother "the Caveman." Stanley backs down and gratefully lets the boys from D tent lead him away. When they reach a safe distance, the other boys from D tent say how tough the Caveman is. Stanley feels grateful he has avoided a fight with this Caveman fellow.

Relaxing in a chair, Stanley repeats what Magnet said about the first hole being the worst. X-Ray contradicts him: "The second hole's a lot harder," he says, noting Stanley will be terribly sore as he digs tomorrow.

Stanley has a box of paper for writing letters home. Squid teases him about writing to his mother, but Stanley starts a letter anyway. As he writes made-up details about swimming and waterskiing, he notices Zero looking over his shoulder. Zero looks angry, so Stanley tucks the letter out of sight.

Then Zero asks a strange question: "Did the shoes have red Xs on the back?" He is talking about the shoes Stanley stole, which did indeed have red Xs on them. Stanley says they did. He wonders if Zero is a fan of Clyde Livingston.

Before Zero can say any more, Armpit and Squid call to "Caveman" to come to dinner. Looking around, Stanley realizes they are talking to him. The Lump in the chair isn't Caveman; Stanley is. He shrugs and follows the other boys to dinner, glad they didn't name him Barf Bag.


The narrator has spent several chapters telling the story through the viewpoints of specific people, mainly Stanley. In Chapter 8 the narrator jumps back out of Stanley's head and uses an authorial voice. This chapter reinforces the feeling the story is being told by an omniscient storyteller who has all sorts of knowledge the characters lack and can comprehend all parts of the story at once. And the narrator's attitude toward the supernatural is distinctly different from that of the characters.

The characters generally doubt the existence of curses, even when curses affect them personally. But the narrator is certain curses are real. He compares a curse to the bite of a yellow-spotted lizard, which is always deadly. This ominous metaphor heightens suspense by making the curse on Stanley sound even more foreboding.

The tone of this passage is more complicated, however, because yellow-spotted lizards aren't real. The author invented them to help drive the plot. Readers must distinguish between the points of view of the narrator and the author. The narrator is serious when he says both curses and yellow-spotted lizards are real. The author, meanwhile, is having fun spinning a suspenseful tall tale to entertain his audience. He knows yellow-spotted lizards aren't real, and his opinions on curses are anyone's guess.

In Chapter 9 the author continues to develop the setting of Camp Green Lake when Stanley goes to rest in the so-called Wreck Room. This name is a pun on the phrase rec room (short for recreation room) and also a grim joke, because everything in the room is wrecked. By implication, Camp Green Lake is a place where there is no recreation, or where the only recreation is destruction.

When Stanley nearly gets into a fight, he misunderstands the other boys' efforts to help him. They warn against bothering "the Caveman," and Stanley assumes this warning is meant for him. Only later does he realize he is "the Caveman." By giving him a nickname, the other boys are showing they accept Stanley. And the name they choose has connotations of violence, strength, and self-sufficiency. These qualities have little to do with Stanley's true character, at least at this point in the story. But Stanley accepts the name, grateful he isn't called Barf Bag.

The boys in Stanley's tent aren't always encouraging, however. When Stanley expresses hope the worst is over, digging wise, X-Ray says digging the second hole will be worse than the first. He doesn't sound particularly sympathetic about the pain and soreness Stanley is going to experience tomorrow.

Showing sweetness or weakness can be dangerous at Camp Green Lake, as Stanley soon learns. When he admits he is going to write to his mother, Squid teases him ruthlessly. Stanley doesn't defend himself. Instead, he waits until Squid isn't looking before he starts his letter. When Stanley sees Zero staring angrily at the letter, Stanley is immediately defensive. Later, readers will learn Zero has very different feelings about Stanley's letter writing.

Zero's name suggests he isn't anything, and most boys treat him as nothing. But at this point Stanley hasn't yet adopted this dismissive attitude toward Zero. To Stanley, Zero just seems hard to figure out. This is especially true when Zero asks whether the shoes Stanley was convicted of stealing had red Xs on the back. Stanley finds the question odd but concludes Zero must be a fan of Clyde Livingston. After all, many people know what celebrity athletes' shoes look like. Stanley's thoughts on this matter are reasonable but incorrect. Once again the author is setting up a plot point to be revealed later in the story.

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