Chapter Summary for Holes by Louis Sachar |
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The protagonist, Stanley Yelnats, is introduced in this brief (9 sentences) chapter and the reader is let in on the second bit of irony: Camp Green Lake is not a camp. Though concise, this chapter introduces the pacing method the author uses throughout the novel. He gives the reader partial answers or small hints each step of the way, but at the same time plants new questions in the reader’s mind.
Stanley rides the unairconditioned bus to Camp Green Lake handcuffed to the armrest. The bus driver and a guard with a rifle are the only other people on the bus. Stanley tries to pretend that he is going to Camp Fun and Games, a place he had imagined while playing with his stuffed animals when he was younger.
At home Stanley had been friendless and ridiculed, even by his teachers who unwittingly could embarrass him about his weight - like the time when Mrs. Bell’s lesson on ratios found Stanley three times heavier than another boy.
Stanley is a good kid and is actually innocent of the crime for which he is being sent to Camp Green Lake. As is the joke in his family, Stanley blames his misfortune on his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. His great -great-grandfather had reportedly stolen a pig from a one-legged gypsy and brought a curse down upon the family forever.
As Stanley remembers his family, he remembers a song his father had sung to him:
“If only, if only,” the
“The bark on the tree was just a little bit softer.”
While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
He cries to the moo-oo-oon,
“If only, if only.”
Stanley’s father was Stanley Yelnats III, making the Stanley in the novel Stanley Yelnats IV. The family liked the palindromic effect of naming their only sons Stanley. Stanley’s father was an unsuccessful inventor, looking for a use for old sneakers. Stanley’s great-grandfather, Stanley Yelnats I, made money in the stock market, but was robbed of everything and left stranded in the desert by the outlaw Kissin’ Kate Barlow. Unfortunately all of the Stanleys to date had bad luck, though they always remained hopeful.
Upon arriving at Camp Green Lake, Stanley notes, “hardly anything was green.”
Here we learn that Stanley is not popular, was wrongfully convicted, and seems to be following the pattern of bad luck set by the Stanley Yelnatses before him. Three stories within the main story are introduced, each seeming to echo the failure and wishful thinking of Stanley’s father’s song. Just enough information is given for the reader to wonder how Stanley’s family history will play into Stanley’s current predicament. At the chapter’s end, the third and last irony of the misnomer, “Camp Green Lake” is observed through Stanley’s eyes.
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Cassie, Donna L.. "TheBestNotes on Holes".
. 11 May 2008