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How deep should you dig to change destiny? “From the tip of the steel blade to the end of the wooden shaft” would answer Stanley Yelnats, the character of the novel “Holes” (1998) of the modern American writer Louis Sachar. The story is full of intrigues, romantic stories about law-breakers, unexpected twists and parallels of plot; comic, tragic and fantastic elements – unforgettable book which won the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal.
One of the potential titles of the novel was “Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Kid”. However, the book finally received the significant name “Holes”: a direct meaning is holes that the characters of the novel dig in desert; a metaphor is difficulties, obstacles, complexities that teenagers have to overcome.
The novel tells from third person perspective about the juvenile Stanley Yelnats, who mistakenly went to a correctional camp with the romantic name Green Lake, but this is not a camp of children’s dreams. The main character meets the world of constant trials and punishments. Stanley has to figure out why the destiny threw him into this camp and why they are forced to dig holes.
There are several storylines and many characters in the book. The protagonist Stanley Yelnats is the most amazing person. The teenager is not discouraged in the terrible camp and testing himself for strength. He always decides by “heart” and not by “head” and helps everyone unselfishly! I would also like to mention another character of the story – Zero or Hector Zeroni. This is Stanley’s friend and the youngest one in the camp, everyone considers him stupid. However, Zero turns out to be a clever boy with deep reasoning. He says that if you live in a hole all your life, you can only climb up. This is a metaphorical phrase, which means that in any difficult situation there is a solution, you just need to find it.
The plot of the book is dynamic and structured so that the reader knows a little bit more than the main character and therefore understands all the events. Actions occur in America, nowadays, in the desert on a former lake. Century-old legends about this place entwine in the main storyline. The main character understands gradually the connection of these stories with his life. The ironic, simple, but not brief language and many dialogues help the reader to understand the characters, to imagine them easy and do not stop reading of the book.
The destiny is the key theme in the novel. The repeated words of a lullaby become a symbol of the variability of life, a symbol of the connection between personality and action. The protagonist will be able to change everything and forget about his bad luck. He realizes that there are no coincidences in life; you just need to make an effort. This message is simple but instinct.
Louis Sachar’s novel is very symbolic. All details of the story are significant and play their role at certain points. For example, the child’s stay in the camp is a classic initiation, because by digging holes under the scorching sun and under no less scorching observation the main character matures. Easy, interesting and understandable writer talks about the children’s problems and shows how important it is to understand who are you and on whom your destiny depends.
For me, the mood of the novel turned out as humorous, because in the characters’ life there are a lot of funny situations and irony. However, I would not call this story a fairy tale, because it makes us thinking about human values. This is a very instructive book. I believe that it will be interesting for readers of different age, gender and nation. The book reminds people that in any life situation you need to fight for your honor, for your family and friends, go to the end.
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