Stanley walks toward the Warden’s cabin, enjoying the shade of the two oak trees but feeling like a condemned man. There are holes all the way up to the cabin.
Stanley confesses to the Warden about the sunflower seeds. Mr. Sir says he thinks Stanley is trying to cover for one of the other boys. The Warden sends Stanley into her dressing room to fetch a makeup case. From among the lipstick and other contents she takes out a bottle of red nail polish that is mixed with rattlesnake venom. She explains that it is harmless when dry, but toxic when wet. She paints her nails and slaps Mr. Sir leaving burning red streaks where his face is scratched. Mr. Sir lay screaming on the floor as Stanley left. The Warden sneered that it was unfortunate for Stanley that Mr. Sir would not die.
Notes: The Warden epitomizes cruelty. She has seriously injured Mr. Sir and sneers that it will ultimately affect Stanley. The reader wonders how and if Mr. Sir will seek revenge against Stanley or if his fear of the Warden will keep him in line.
As Stanley walks back to his hole he thinks about his great grandfather, the pig-stealer’s son, who had spent seventeen days lost in the desert after being robbed by Kissin’ Kate Barlow. He was rescued, claiming he had “found refuge on God’s thumb,” was sent to a hospital, and married one of the nurses. Stanley’s thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a rattlesnake. Stanley backs away and runs. When he reaches the spot where Group D is digging he sees that Zero has nearly finished his hole for him.
Notes: Stanley relates to the stranded feeling his great-grandfather must have had in the desert. The great-grandfather’s bad luck, however, ended up putting him in the right place at the right time to meet his wife. Similarly, Stanley’s great-great-grandfather’s problems set him up to meet his wife. The role of fate in everyday life is illustrated again.
At the camp, the other boys tease Zero about why he likes to dig so much. Stanley waits until he and Zero are alone to thank him for digging his hole and to ask why Zero helped him.
Zero replies that Stanley did not steal the sunflower seeds, and he did not steal the sneakers either. Stanley offers to teach Zero how to read. Zero smiles a wide-mouthed smile. Stanley is impressed at how smart Zero is both in memorization and in math. In return for the lessons, Zero offers to dig Stanley’s hole for an hour each day. In closing, Zero tells Stanley, “I’m not stupid, I know everybody thinks I am. I just don’t like answering their questions.”
Later, while in bed, Stanley is thinking over the deal he made with Zero, worrying about X-Ray’s disapproval. As he tries to sleep the memory of his experience in the Warden’s cabin drifts around in his head. Suddenly remembering the makeup case, he realizes that the gold tube he had found is the top from a lipstick, and the KB inscribed on it could mean Kate Barlow.
Notes: In contrast to the reward and threat relationships encountered thus far at Camp Green Lake, Stanley and Zero begin to establish a connection based on mutual benefit. This arrangement with Zero would not have come about if Stanley had not been in the wrong place at the wrong time with the sunflower seeds. That incident gave Zero a reason to do Stanley a favor, allowing Stanley to reconsider the coldness with which he had treated Zero earlier. In addition, the sunflower seed incident led Stanley into the Warden’s cabin where he saw lipstick and was thereby able to identify the gold tube he had found. Once again, fate enters in, suggesting a plan behind Stanley’s bad luck.