Holes by Louis Sachar: Summary

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Words: 922 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

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Words: 922|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

Holes by Louis Sachar: Summary
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The essay explores the novel "Holes" by Louis Sachar, providing a summary and delving into its themes, particularly the concept of fate. The story follows the protagonist, Stanley Yelnats, who suffers from bad luck due to a family curse. Unjustly sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, Stanley is forced to dig holes every day under the scorching sun. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that the camp's purpose is to search for something, revealing the story's intricate layers.

The essay also discusses the role of fate in the story and how Stanley's perception of it changes over time. Initially, he believes the curse controls his life, bringing him constant misfortune. However, his encounter with a fellow camper named Hector Zeroni (Zero) and the discovery of his family's history challenge this belief. Through their friendship and determination, they overcome obstacles and eventually unearth a valuable suitcase tied to Stanley's family's past.

Furthermore, the essay draws parallels between "Holes" and the movie "Moana," emphasizing how fate shapes the protagonists' journeys. Both Moana and Stanley face curses and expectations from their families that initially hinder their progress. However, they each undergo personal transformations and take control of their destinies, leading to their success in achieving their goals.

Holes is an action-fiction novel by Louis Sachar and has won many awards including the John Newbery Medal.

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The novel is about Stanley Yelnats; Stanley is a boy who grew up with bad luck due to a curse placed on his great-great-grandfather. Due to his bad luck, he was sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, for a crime he did not commit. Stanley and the other boys at the camp are forced to dig large holes in the dirt every day in the scalding sun. Stanley eventually realizes later in the novel that they are digging these holes because the Warden (Miss Kathryn Barlow )is searching for something. As Stanley continues to the dig holes and meet all of the other boys at the camp, the narrator intertwines three different stories to reveal why Stanley’s family has a curse and what the Warden is looking for. One of the stories was when Stanley was a boy his great-great-grandfather, Elya Yelnats, received a pig from Madame Zeroni, who was a gypsy, in exchange for a promise. Elya’s promise was that after the pig grew strong he would carry Madame Zeroni, who only had one leg, up a mountain and sing her a song that she had taught him. After he gets caught up in love he takes a boat to American and never fulfills his promise to Madame Zeroni. Elya later marries and has a child in America and always thinks about Madame Zeroni, who he believes has cursed him because of his failure to fulfill his promise. He knows that Madame Zeroni’s son lives somewhere in America, but Elya was never able to find him, but only one hundred and ten years before Stanley arrives at Camp Green Lake or the town of Green Lake was a beautiful place where peach trees bloom throughout the spring and rain actually falls. In this Texas town, the schoolteacher, Katherine Barlow, falls in love with Sam, who was the onion seller.

While Katherine and Sam are alive, racism is spread through the United States and it is against the law for a black man to kiss a white woman. Due to Sam being black and Katharine being white, the people in the town become angry when they find that Katherine and Sam have kissed. Katherine and Sam attempt to escape because everyone in the town is after them but their boat is destroyed while only halfway across the lake and Sam was killed. Katherine went mad because of this incident and later became an outlaw known as Kissin’ Kate Barlow. She gets her name due to the fact that she kisses all of the men she kills, leaving a lipstick imprint of her lips on their faces. In her twenty years of robbing people in the west, she happens to Rob Stanley’s great-grandfather, while he is on his way from New York to California she also robs Charles Walker. She later buries Stanley’s great-grandfather’s money somewhere. Charles Walker, who was the richest person in the town, and his wife Linda try to torture her into revealing its location. Kate dies before anyone can find out where the money is hidden. Ever Since Sam was killed, rain stopped falling on Green Lake and the lake dries up, never to return. Due to Green Lake drying up, the citizens of the town all move away, and by the time that the land is serving as Camp Green Lake, the only people there are juvenile delinquents. Stanley has a hard time digging holes there due to the incredible heat and the hard, dry land. At one point Stanley digs up half of a lipstick tube that has the initials KB on it and they don’t know what it is.

Stanley knows that the Warden, who happens to be a descendant of Charles and Linda Walker. Stanley is interested in this find, and he speculates that perhaps Kate Barlow used to live in hh area. The other boys at the camp are tough and all have nicknames. Stanley tries to stay in the good graces of X-Ray, the obvious leader of the group but this becomes harder as Stanley becomes better friends with a boy named Zero. Although Stanley and Zero, also known as Hector Zeroni, do not know it, Hector is the great-great-great-grandson of Madame Zeroni. Zero eventually runs away from camp and Stanley, in an effort to save him, follows after a few days. The two help each other to reach the top of a big mountain. At the top of the mountain, it turns out to be Sam’s old onion field. Because Zero is very weak, Stanley carries him up this mountain. They survive on onions for more than a week and then return to camp, planning to search for Kate Barlow’s treasure in the hole where Stanley found the lipstick tube.

Stanley and Zero find a suitcase that has the name Stanley Yelnats on it. Although the Warden attempts to take the suitcase from them, Stanley’s lawyer, Ms. Marengo, arrives at the camp to say that Stanley has been proven innocent and that Stanley and Hector are able to leave the camp with the suitcase. It turns out that the suitcase contains many valuable items and is, in fact, it was the same suitcase that Kate Barlow took from Stanley’s great-grandfather years and years ago.

All in all, this is a great book and it is full of action and a little mystery. This book is also a quick read, and teaches about loyalty and true friendship.

Fate in Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ and Clement And Muskets’ ‘Moana’

Both Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ and Clement And Muskets renowned tale ‘Moana’ depict how unequivocal fate can be to a person in the completion of a journey. In this text it will be explained how the power of fate in the minds of people; positive or negative, can greatly affect their success. Fate in ‘Moana’ is represented as an integral theme, throughout the movie she questions who she is meant to be and where her fate lies, Moana’s grandmother told her to become who she is meant to be regardless of the implications regarding her parents. In the ‘Holes’ text the Yelnat’s family believe that their Great-great-grandfather Elya Yelnat’s had stolen a pig from a one legged gypsy and she put a curse on all of his ancestry, they believe the curse alters their fate and that for the rest of their lives they will have to live enduring bad luck.

In Moana and Holes, what the protagonist wants to do often conflicts with what they have to do, Moana was forced to embark on her journey. Stanley was forced to go to Camp Green Lake even though he was not guilty, they had to first battle themselves and then move to face the challenges that came to them. These battles shaped the protagonists’ into characters that not only were able to fulfill the destiny they’d wanted but were also able to help their friends reach their goals as well.

Both texts demonstrate how the protagonist’s journeys are afflicted by terrible curses. Sachar’s depicts how Stanley believes he is impacted by the curse of his “great-great-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-grandfather”. Similarly, Clements and Musket illustrate the pain suffered on Moana’s island following the theft of Te’fiti’s heart. Moana is determined to break down the curse demanding Maui “board her boat, sail across the seas and return the heart”. Both protagonists believe they are unlikely to overcome the unfortunate circumstances of the curses-but they actually serve as a motivator for Stanley and Moana to achieve success.

Moana’s fate in the text was to restore the heart of Te Fiti, but in the beginning she didn’t think that was what would happen, from a young age Moana was taught she would become the chief of her people, a people that were bound to their land and not to leave, this conflicted with what she viewed as her destiny, to be a voyager, to sail across the seas, eventually this was filtered out of her and she decided to stay on land, at least on the outside, on the inside Moana longed harder than ever to go out to sea and explore the world, eventually with the right motivation she was able to regain her confidence and leave the island in search of Maui the Demi-god. Stanley Yelnat’s fate was depicted in his bad luck which came from the curse on his family, to Stanley this altered his fate in a negative way, giving him bad luck at every turn and not allowing him to leave anything to chance, but the stars aligned for him, and the great grandson of Madame Zeroni ended up in Camp Green Lake with him, and once Stanley sung the lullaby his curse was lifted.

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In both texts the characters are held back, not only by a curse or by their families expectations, there is also a mental level to the characters success, Sachar’s Holes and Clement and Musket’s ‘Moana’ both explore in depth not only the importance of fate in success but also how ones mental approach to fate can affect their success as well.

Works Cited

  1. Sachar, L. (1998). Holes. Yearling.
  2. Clements, R., & Musker, J. (2016). Moana: The Junior Novelization. Random House Books for Young Readers.
  3. Cox, S. (2008). The Fate of Louis Sachar's Holes. The ALAN Review, 36(3), 39-47.
  4. Edwards, S. (2019). The Narrative Structure of Moana. Cinephile: The University of British Columbia's Film Journal, 15(2), 61-69.
  5. El-Hussein, M. M. (2014). Literary Fate and Freedom: A Comparative Study of Louis Sachar's Holes and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. International Journal of English and Literature, 5(5), 259-270.
  6. Latham, D. P. (2003). Reading Moana: How Literary Allusions and Intertexts Enhance the Film. Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 28(4), 216-232.
  7. Moss, M. (2011). Holes: A Case Study of Texts and Contexts. Children's Literature in Education, 42(1), 59-72.
  8. Sachar, L. (2000). Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake. Yearling.
  9. Sanderson, B. (2019). Empowering Indigenous Girls in Moana: A Critical Race Feminist Analysis. Girlhood Studies, 12(2), 95-112.
  10. Thompson, J. R. (2012). Young Readers, YA Fiction, and Holes: Challenging Genres in an Urban Classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(8), 675-685.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Holes by Louis Sachar: Summary. (2022, February 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“Holes by Louis Sachar: Summary.” GradesFixer, 18 Feb. 2022,
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