This study guide will help you analyze the novel Holes (1998) by Louis Sachar. You can also find a summary of the text, detailed characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.


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Zero's selfless and kind act opens Stanley's eyes. He spends time with Zero and promises to teach him to read and write . Zero, in return, wants to continue digging Stanley's hole for an hour each day so they can return to camp at about the same time.

Once Stanley and Zero start spending time together regularly, they come to appreciate each other and themselves more. Stanley is impressed by Zero's intelligence , and Zero grows to trust his patient teacher. Although the other boys are upset that Zero spends an hour every day digging Stanley's hole, neither of them breaks their agreement.

For the first time, Stanley is confident enough to ignore X-Ray’s discomfort. He now thinks not only of his own survival at Camp Green Lake, but also of his friend Zero's learning progress, which he is determined to maintain: 

He did need to save his strength so he could be a better teacher, although Zero was a quick learner. Sometimes, in fact, Stanley hoped the Warden was watching them (...) so she’d know that Zero wasn’t as stupid as everyone thought. (Part 1, 95%).

For the first time, both Stanley and Zero have someone to stand by them against their other peers, someone they can rely on implicitly. When Stanley is attacked by Zigzag, Zero intervenes. And when the Warden wants to forbid the agreement between Zero and Stanley, Stanley tries to maintain it: "Why can't I dig my own hole, but still teach Zero to read?" (Part 2, 3%).

The escape

After Zero has fled into the desert, Stanley is worried and agitated. He constantly thinks of his friend and whether he is still alive . After four days, Stanley can no longer ignore "the image of Zero crawling across the hot dry dirt" (Part 2, 18%). He follows his friend into the desert and wants to lead him to "God's thumb" (Part 2, 14%).

 In the days that follow, both Stanley and Zero prove to be true friends and show strengths that they had not previously displayed. Zero pulls the much larger Stanley up a cliff with the help of a shovel, accepting that the shovel blade will cut his palms in the process (Part 2, 37%). After Zero collapses, Stanley carries him up the steep and arduous path to "God's Thumb" and nurses him back to health with water and onions.

Together they manage to survive on "God's Thumb" for over a week. Zero opens up to Stanley: he tells him about his past (and confesses to him that he is responsible for the theft of the sneakers for which Stanley was arrested ). Stanley is not angry about this, on the contrary: he is glad about this period of his life, for the first time he can "like himself" (Part 2, 63%).

True friendship

Since both Zero and Stanley have gained a lot of self-confidence in their friendship together, it is not surprising that they become even more daring. They want to return to Camp Green Lake and recover Kissin' Kate Barlow's treasure.

When they find the suitcase with the treasure, a happy ending is within reach for both of them: "'You did it,' Zero said (...). 'We did it,' said Stanley." (Part 2, 77%). The Warden and her counselors can't do anything about it because Stanley's name is on the suitcase and because Stanley's father's patent attorney has secured his release. Stanley, however, refuses to just leave his loyal friend Zero behind, "I can't leave Hector." (Part 2, 92%). Only when his lawyer agrees to take Zero with her do they leave Camp Green Lake together.

The friendship between Stanley and Zero has become so close that it survives even after Camp Green Lake. They divide the contents of the treasure evenly between them and are still friends a year and a half after their release. Their friendship is an example of how much just one true friend can rescue a person from their loneliness and isolation. In this case, Stanley and Zero saved each other and changed personally in the process. - The became more confident and courageous.

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