Literature Study GuidesHolesPart 2 Chapters 31 32 Summary

Holes | Study Guide

Louis Sachar

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Course Hero, "Holes Study Guide," June 7, 2019, accessed December 8, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Holes/.

Holes | Part 2, Chapters 31–32 : The Last Hole | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 31

Stanley is furious. He blames everyone for what happened to Zero, from the counselors to the other campers to his great-great-grandfather. But he especially blames himself.

He feels bad for letting Zero help him dig, and he feels worse for not going out to try to rescue Zero. He finishes his hole, and then he digs Zero's. Nobody offers to help him, and he is okay with that. He tells himself he should go find Zero and head to the mountain he now calls the Big Thumb. But he stays and digs instead.

Stanley continues to think about Zero all the next day, but he still doesn't run away. After he finishes his hole, the counselors and the Warden corner him. They ask if he has seen Zero, and he says no. Mr. Pendanski says Zero was a street kid with no family. "He was nobody," Mr. Pendanski says. The Warden tells Mr. Pendanski to erase all of Zero's files and pretend he was never at Camp Green Lake.

Chapter 32

In a couple of days, a new kid is assigned to Stanley's tent to take Zero's place. The new kid calls himself Twitch and brags about stealing cars.

By now Stanley is pretty sure Zero is dead. But he isn't certain, and his conscience eats at him. Twitch's talk about cars gets Stanley thinking about the water truck. When Mr. Sir comes to refill the canteens, Stanley hops into the truck and tries to drive away. Almost immediately he crashes into a hole.

The truck is wrecked, and this time Stanley's great-grandfather has nothing to do with his bad luck. Stanley has only himself to blame. He gets up and takes off running away from camp. He keeps his canteen with him, but it does him no good. It's empty.

Analysis

After Zero runs away, Stanley is angry but remarkably clear-sighted. Although he thinks the counselors and the other boys behaved badly, he blames himself more than anyone else. The fight wouldn't have happened if Stanley had helped Zero without payment. Most people protect themselves emotionally in upsetting moments by trying to blame anyone but themselves. Stanley's willingness to assume blame is a sign both of his goodness and his self-awareness. He digs the rest of Zero's hole without help, treating the extra work as a kind of moral penance.

Zero is certain to die of thirst in the desert if he doesn't return to camp. Stanley is the only person who thinks the desert might contain water. This, along with Stanley's friendship with Zero, puts an intense pressure on Stanley. He is facing a big choice. One option is to risk everything, including his own life, to help a friend. The other is to do nothing.

For days Stanley goes with the latter option. He follows the rules of Camp Green Lake and digs his holes. When the counselors corner him to ask about Zero, they seem convinced Zero is dying or dead. Mr. Pendanski speaks with his usual callous cruelty toward Zero when he says, "He was nobody." Unlike Stanley he doesn't seem to feel any guilt or sadness about Zero's fate. The only change he makes is in the use of the past tense to refer to Zero.

Everyone has always discounted Zero, and now it's clear this is partly because nobody outside Camp Green Lake knows or cares much about him. The counselors decide to erase Zero's records. They opt to let Zero die, betting nobody will care.

Stanley worries about Zero for days, but he seems to be the only one who does. He can't stop thinking Zero might still be alive, and he feels obligated to go look for him. This prospect terrifies him; Stanley has never been much of a risk taker. When the other boys got a kick out of breaking rules, he didn't enjoy it at all. He's always tried to avoid getting in trouble. And leaving camp to look for Zero will certainly bring trouble. He will either face the Warden and her rattlesnake nail polish, or he will die of thirst in the desert.

When Stanley finally goes after Zero, he acts on impulse. It might be impossible to make a foolproof plan for running off into the desert, but any plan would start with bringing water. Stanley tries: the stolen water truck could get two escaped kids pretty far, and keep them hydrated. But Stanley doesn't know how to drive, nor does he make much attempt to steer. When he crashes nobody chases him, and he probably has time to stop and fill his canteen. But he is so high on emotions he isn't thinking, and he takes off with no water at all.

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