Literature Study GuidesHolesPart 2 Chapters 42 44 Summary

Holes | Study Guide

Louis Sachar

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Holes | Part 2, Chapters 42–44 : The Last Hole | Summary



Chapter 42

As Zero gets stronger, he helps make the well hole bigger. He also speculates about how water comes to be at the top of such a tiny mountain. He thinks the thumb-shaped rock must be full of water that flows down through the field. "Water doesn't run uphill," he says.

Stanley is more concerned with the onions. They don't smell or taste strong to him after a week at the Big Thumb, and he guesses he and Zero smell strongly of onions.

Stanley knows he and Zero have to go back to Camp Green Lake. But for now, he is happy on the Big Thumb. He realizes he has not felt happy for a long time. Even before Camp Green Lake, he was unhappy because he was bullied and friendless. Now, for the first time in years, he likes himself.

Thinking about Zero, Stanley realizes he must have just come to Camp Green Lake a month or two before Stanley. They both got arrested on the same day, but Stanley's trial was later because of Clyde Livingston's baseball schedule. Stanley thinks fate must have brought him the shoes.

Stanley decides his luck might not be so bad after all. He wonders if he and Zero could survive as outlaws. Perhaps they can fill up their jars and canteen, sneak back to camp, and get more water and food there. Before taking off, they can dig up Kissin' Kate Barlow's treasure.

Chapter 43

Stanley and Zero plan to leave the Big Thumb at dawn. They plan to carry as many onions as they can and be very careful around the camp. They will decide when they get there if it is safe enough to try digging.

Before they go, Zero tells Stanley about his mother. He has a vague memory of having a place to live as a baby. He remembers her by his crib, singing the same song Stanley sang.

In the morning, on the walk downhill, Stanley falls and drops the bag of water and onions. They lose some onions, but none of the jars break. For once, Stanley has good luck.

The boys both avoid drinking as they set out across the dry lake bed. It becomes a competition, and when they finally drink, they each claim to be doing it only so the other won't be thirsty. When they reach the Mary Lou, they rest and eat some onions.

While the boys rest, Zero tells a little more about his mother. He says she sometimes left him, if she had something she needed to do without him. She would always give him somewhere to wait. One day she left him at a place called Laney Park, and she never came back. Zero waited for more than a month, but she never returned.

During this conversation, Stanley chooses the direction he thinks leads to camp. Zero isn't paying attention at first, but he suddenly realizes they are going the wrong way. He draws Stanley a map and corrects their direction. In a few more hours, they start hearing the sounds of camp. They climb into some holes and wait.

Chapter 44

Stanley drinks and eats a bit in his hole. He surprises himself by falling asleep. Zero wakes him in the dark, and Stanley leads the way to the hole where he found the gold lipstick tube. Stanley digs in the hole while Zero sneaks into camp to steal water and food. When Zero returns, they both eat Frosted Flakes and drink water, then go back to digging.

Eventually, Stanley's shovel hits something hard. The hard object is lodged in the side of the hole, deep underground, so Stanley digs around and underneath it. With great effort, he pries a suitcase out. He hands it up to Zero, and the two boys congratulate each other.

Just then, a bright light shines on the boys, and they hear the Warden's voice, thanking them.


Zero has never been to school. But as the book continues, he displays a great deal of practical, real-world intelligence. Zero's thinking about the water at the Big Thumb is one example. Geologically it doesn't make sense for a water source to be in that location in such a dry area. Zero guesses the water comes from inside the Big Thumb; otherwise the water would have to flow uphill.

Neither Stanley nor Zero has all the puzzle pieces needed to understand this story. Readers, in contrast, know Elya Yelnats once climbed a mountain in historic Latvia where water did indeed flow uphill. They also know this field is a place where people survive unexpected trials, and where magical healing onions grow. In this particular place, water does indeed flow uphill.

Stanley doesn't yet know the curse has been lifted. He probably still doesn't fully believe in the curse. But he does know he is unexpectedly happy with Zero at the Big Thumb. He has previously shown an ability to be hopeful in bad circumstances, and to feel pleasure in the moment even when he feels doomed. But his happiness now has a different quality. He is proud of the good things he has accomplished, and he is happy to share time with a friend.

Like Zero, Stanley is an intelligent boy, but Stanley has different interests. Whereas Zero has a gift for practical, logical, and mathematical thinking, Stanley is more inclined to work out puzzles involving people, places, and history. This ability helps Stanley work out some of the details of Zero's story about the shoes. Now Stanley believes Zero's story because it makes sense to him how it all happened. But he knows it is a strange story, so he thinks—probably correctly—fate played a role.

Stanley has always been unlucky, but after he decides to carry Zero to the top of the Big Thumb, his luck changes. On the morning he and Zero head back to Camp Green Lake, Stanley falls down, dropping his bag of supplies. Stanley isn't injured, and his jars of water don't break. He doesn't yet know the curse is broken, but he interprets this event as an unexpected piece of good luck.

Readers learn more about Zero's character through a series of stories about his early life. Apparently Zero was not always homeless, and his memories of his mother make her sound like a loving woman who was trying very hard to care for him in desperate circumstances. But Zero has not seen her for a long time, and much of his information about his own life is pieced together from fuzzy memories and guesswork. He doesn't have anyone to turn to for answers about what happened.

One of Zero's stories provides evidence that he really is a descendant of Madame Zeroni, the woman who cursed Elya Yelnats. In some of Zero's earliest memories, his mother is singing him a song very similar to the one Stanley sang at the Big Thumb. The words were different, however, which makes sense if two different people translated the song from Latvian to English, and if two different families passed the song down through several generations without writing it down.

The boys' friendship also continues to develop on the walk back toward Camp Green Lake. In the past they have kept each other going by acting strong, brave, and tough through very difficult circumstances. Now that they are traveling with a little bit of food and water, they each continue trying to act tough. But this time they make a game of perseverance without drinking water even when they are carrying water to drink.

When Stanley makes a mistake in his navigation back to camp, Zero shows his practical intelligence yet again. He figures out how to orient back toward Camp Green Lake without getting lost. This shows how Stanley and Zero are coming to rely on each other and shows Stanley isn't the only hero of this situation. He did save Zero, and now both boys are following Stanley's plan. But Stanley would have little chance of enacting this plan successfully without Zero's contribution.

In the book's early chapters, Stanley often struggles to sleep when he's nervous. In Chapter 44, as he waits in great danger for a chance to dig for treasure, he easily drops off to sleep. This shows he can now relax when he gets a chance. It also shows how much he trusts Zero. The trust is mutual. While Stanley is digging for treasure, Zero slips away without seeming concerned Stanley might keep the treasure for himself. Later, Stanley seems equally trusting of Zero when he offers to switch jobs. This trust is unsurprising considering what they have been through together, but it is unusual. A character like the Warden would never leave an accomplice near a treasure like that alone.

It is unclear how the adults at Camp Green Lake find out Stanley and Zero are back. At one point Zero suggests Stanley would never make a good thief because he moves too loudly. But Stanley never goes very close to camp, so it isn't clear whether the counselors have been watching for them or one of the boys has made a mistake. The author takes pains to show both Stanley and Zero's positive efforts; perhaps he wants readers to know these matter more than assigning blame for failures.

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