It becomes even hotter at Camp Green Lake because of the humidity from the thunderstorms in the distant mountains. To Stanley it appears that lightning is coming out of a huge, distant rock formation that resembles a fist with the thumb sticking up, “as if it were the thumb of God.”
Notes: Here is one more piece of the puzzle. Stanley is digging near the place where Kissin’ Kate Barlow robbed his great-grandfather who survived the desert by finding “refuge on God’s thumb.”
As Stanley digs he ponders “God’s thumb” thinking he must be near where his great-grandfather was robbed. He wonders if the lipstick tube he found was really Kate Barlow’s. It comes time for Zero to dig part of Stanley’s hole and the other boys sarcastically taunt Stanley about having a slave. When Mr. Pendanski arrives with the water truck the boys force Stanley to the front of the line accusing him of being better than they are. The taunting leads to a pushing fight with Zigzag, though Stanley does not push back. Mr. Pendanski intervenes encouraging Stanley to hit Zigzag and “teach the bully a lesson.” Stanley feigns a punch and Zigzag proceeds to beat Stanley up. Zero pulls Zigzag off and has him in a life threatening choke hold. Mr. Pendanski fires his gun into the air.
The gunfire brings the Warden and the other counselors out. The boys tell the Warden that Zero has been digging part of Stanley’s holes. Stanley tries to explain, but the Warden turns the situation against Zero by quizzing him on phonics. Mr. Pendanski comments that Zero is “so stupid, he doesn’t even know he’s stupid.”
Zero then refuses to dig any more holes. Mr. Pendanski continues to berate Zero. Having had enough, Zero smacks a shovel into Mr. Pendanski’s face. The counselors draw their guns as Zero slowly walks away until he disappears in the distance.
Expecting Zero to return, the Warden posts guards at the showers and wreck room for the remainder of the day and night. She orders the six boys remaining to dig all seven holes.
Notes: The action is rising toward the climax. Stanley is fully aware that they are digging for treasure, not to build character. He no longer cares what the other boys think. He sees clearly the mean spirited side of Mr. Pendanski. Stanley has grown tremendously stronger from digging holes. However the most significant growth has been in his spirit. He stands up to Zigzag but shows his true strength by refusing to fight. He boldly defends his arrangement with Zero right to the Warden’s face. Stanley has truly built character - it had nothing to do with holes.
Stanley stays out on the lake digging Zero’s hole. He is angry with himself for letting Zero dig part of his hole and for not going after Zero. He thinks about trying to make a deal with the Warden, telling her where he really found the gold tube, but he is afraid of her rattlesnake fingernails. He hopes Zero has found “God’s thumb.”
The next day, when Zero has not returned, the camp authorities question Stanley. Then the Warden tells Mr. Pendanski to destroy all of the records possible so the A.G.’s office has no way of knowing that Hector Zeroni was ever at Camp Green Lake.
Notes: The hopeful nature of the Yelnats family shows in Stanley’s musings about why it would be possible for Zero to find “God’s thumb.” This is in sharp contrast to the inhuman attitude of the authorities at Camp Green Lake who emotionlessly decide that “no one cares about Hector Zeroni.”