Literature Study GuidesHolesPart 2 Chapters 45 47 Summary

Holes | Study Guide

Louis Sachar

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Holes | Part 2, Chapters 45–47 : The Last Hole | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 45

The Warden is with Mr. Pendanski, who is holding a flashlight, and Mr. Sir, who is holding a gun. The Warden starts to say something, and then the beam of the flashlight falls on a yellow-spotted lizard. Everyone freezes as Stanley realizes he and Zero are covered with lizards. Apparently they have been digging in a lizard nest.

The adults decide to wait for the lizards to finish the boys off. "At least we'll have a body to give that woman," the Warden says. She isn't worried about people asking questions, either. She says she spent her whole childhood watching her parents dig holes in this lake. When she was old enough, they made her dig too.

Chapter 46

One of the lizards leaps toward the adults, and Mr. Sir shoots it in the air. But the lizards don't bite Stanley and Zero. Stanley doesn't understand it. He and Zero stay frozen, listening to the Warden plan a simple story to explain Stanley's death. They'll say he tried to escape and got bitten by a lizard on the way. They'll simply bury Zero where nobody will find him. A person they call "that woman" and someone else called "the A.G." are going to ask questions, but the Warden will deal with it.

Stanley doesn't know who they are talking about. All he cares about is being alive for a few more seconds. He thinks about happy times playing in snow with his mother. And when Mr. Sir says Stanley's lawyer proved him innocent, Stanley fails to comprehend him. He never had a lawyer. His parents don't have the money to hire one.

Chapter 47

Slowly the sun comes up, and Stanley studies the lizards. Zero, who is holding the suitcase, seems delirious. "Satan," he says. "Sa-tan lee."

As the sun rises higher in the sky, Stanley feels the lizards moving downward into the hole to avoid the heat. He tries to ease his body up and away from them, but the lizards claw at him, so he decides to stay put. "Is your last name your first name backward?" Zero says. Stanley is startled; why would Zero be thinking about that?

A car pulls up to camp, and two people in business clothes emerge. They are shocked to see Stanley and Zero covered in lizards. The Warden claims Stanley broke into her cabin and stole her suitcase in the night. The newly arrived woman, who claims to be Stanley's lawyer, says he should have been released to her yesterday. Apparently the Warden pretended not to believe a court order for Stanley's release, and the lawyer has now brought the attorney general to help.

During this conversation the sun rises higher, and the lizards scurry downward into the shade. Eventually Stanley and Zero are free of the lizards. The Warden rushes forward to grab the suitcase from Zero, but Zero refuses to hand it over. He points to the name on the suitcase: STANLEY YELNATS.

Analysis

Many stories' conflicts stem mostly from people or from nature. The conflicts in Holes often come from a mixture of the two. Throughout the story the Warden is portrayed as the worst human enemy, and the yellow-spotted lizard is portrayed as the worst natural threat. In the climactic scene, the boys face both at once. But the lizards fail to bite the boys as expected. Instead they essentially protect Stanley and Zero from the Warden, who won't risk attacking the boys if it means dying of a lizard bite. The lizards' unexpected docility may seem like an inconsistency to some readers. But the omniscient narrator later explains why the lizards don't bite the boys, and the reason is closely connected to one of the novel's historic plotlines.

The standoff with the Warden tells readers more about her. She alludes to a childhood spent watching her parents dig for the treasure and eventually being forced to dig too. This suggests the Warden is a descendant of Trout Walker, the enemy of Kissin' Kate Barlow. It also makes the Warden's childhood sound quite grim, and enables readers to empathize—somewhat—with the Warden. But this information also comes when the Warden is casually and remorselessly waiting for two of her campers to die so she can get what she wants. In other words, she still clearly seems like a villain.

As Stanley stands stock still with deadly lizards crawling all over him, he is too focused on survival to comprehend much of what people are saying around him. But these conversations suggest a great deal has occurred since Stanley and Zero ran away from Camp Green Lake. Stanley's parents' fortunes seem to have changed enough to allow them to hire a lawyer. The lawyer is also putting the Warden and the camp under great pressure with all her questions.

The Warden and counselors continue to behave as they always have. They're focused on getting the treasure, and none of them seem to care a bit about Stanley and Zero. They talk about the boys as if they are already dead, and they treat these deaths like a convenience. None of them shows any shame or guilt.

This scene helps explain why Mr. Sir and Mr. Pendanski have been putting up with such awful treatment from the Warden for so long. Clearly they've known about the treasure for a long time, and they seem to expect to benefit from it. Greed is their motivation. The author never reveals additional backstory about either character. They are simply minions of the main villain.

As the sun rises over Camp Green Lake, Zero's sparse dialogue sounds strange and delirious. He suddenly says "Satan" and "Sa-tan lee." It seems he is falling apart under the pressure of being held at gunpoint while deadly lizards crawl all over his body. But no: he's trying to read some words on the suitcase he and Stanley dug up. His reading skills are barely up to the task, but he eventually figures out the suitcase has Stanley's name on it.

Holes contains many coincidences, and this is one of the biggest. But the author has been planting clues since the novel's early chapters. The main character of Holes is Stanley Yelnats IV. His great-grandfather, Stanley Yelnats I, won a fortune in the stock market and then was robbed by the outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow. Now it becomes clear Kissin' Kate buried a suitcase belonging to Stanley Yelnats I in the dry lake bed before she died. This is the treasure the Warden has been looking for all these years. But when a lawyer and the attorney general see Stanley's name printed on it, they assume it belongs to him.

The lawyer and the attorney general both have strong reasons to mistrust the Warden. According to their dialogue, the lawyer brought the Warden an order for Stanley's release yesterday. The Warden, who clearly didn't report Stanley's absence to the authorities, couldn't hand him over because he ran away. Apparently she bought herself some time by pretending not to believe in the court order. The lawyer reported this to the attorney general, who now knows something very odd is going on at Camp Green Lake. He has come to help secure Stanley's release.

People at Camp Green Lake usually operate according to their own rules, with no regard for the laws of the outside world. Until now the Warden has flouted the rules because—apparently—no one cared what she did to the kids. But now the lawyer and the attorney general have brought society's rules to bear on Camp Green Lake. In their presence the Warden becomes far less formidable. She can't openly commit theft and murder without sacrificing her position in society.

Some readers might wonder why the Warden cares about her position in society. She clearly wants the treasure, and now it is close by. In theory she could shoot everyone, grab the treasure, and run away to live as an outlaw. The author doesn't explain why she doesn't do this, but he offers some hints. First, the Warden's behavior in the next few scenes show she's attempting to get the treasure by craftier means. Second, her fixation on this treasure, and her decision to live where she lives, suggests she has a strong connection to her family's history and land. If the Warden is a descendant of Trout Walker, she might want to restore her family's historic wealth and honor. This isn't something she could do on the run.

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