Summary of part one


Chapter: 1

Part 1, 0%-1%

Setting: Texas, Camp Green Lake

Time: Undetermined

Characters: The Warden is mentioned

The novel Holes by Louis Sachar begins with a description of the reform school Camp Green Lake, which will later be the main setting of the novel. The name "Green Lake" is misleading. At the time in which the action of the novel takes place, the lake that once existed there has long since dried up. The town with the same name, which once bordered the lake, has also long been abandoned.

Now near the camp there is only a hot, dry desert with summer temperatures up to 35 degrees Celsius. The only shade is reserved for a single resident of Camp Green Lake: The Warden.

The dry desert is not the only danger for the inhabitants of the camp. Rattlesnakes and scorpions sometimes get lost in the holes that the young residents of the camp have to dig every day. Their bites are not harmless, but not fatal either. It is different with the yellow spotted lizards that hide there. Their bites are agonizing and deadly: no one can survive them.


Chapter: 2

Part 1, 2%

Setting: Undetermined

Time: Undetermined

Characters: Stanley Yelnats is mentioned

The second chapter describes why there are camp residents in such a dangerous environment as Camp Green Lake in the first place. Camp Green Lake is a correctional facility for teenagers. As an educational measure of the camp, the boys are supposed to dig a hole outside in the desert every day.

The main character of the novel, Stanley Yelnats, is given the possibility to decide for himself whether he prefers to serve his sentence in a normal prison or in Camp Green Lake. Since Stanley has never been to a summer camp, he chooses Camp Green Lake.

Chapter: 3

Part 1, 3%--6%

Setting: Texas, drive to Camp Green Lake

Time: Present day (drive to Camp Green Lake) and flashback to Stanley's family past

Characters: In the present: Stanley Yelnats, driver, guard. In flashbacks: Stanley Yelnats, Stanley's father of the same name, Stanley's mother, Stanley's great-grandfather, Stanley's great-great-grandfather, outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow.

Stanley Yelnats, handcuffed and accompanied by a guard, is driven to Camp Green Lake in the sweltering Texas heat. During the drive, he reflects on the misfortune that has regularly troubled his family since the days of his great-great-grandfather. His great-great-grandfather supposedly stole a pig from an old woman and thus - according to family lore - brought misfortune on the entire family.

Stanley doesn't really believe in curses, but there's no denying that bad luck and misfortune have always followed his family. His great-grandfather for example, had his entire fortune stolen by Kissin' Kate Barlow, a notorious outlaw in the American West.

Since then, Stanley's family has lived in poverty and, despite all their courage and hope, they seem unable to strike any good fortune. Stanley's father is an intelligent and imaginative inventor, but his discoveries have all proved unsuccessful so far. He is currently working on a recycling process for sneakers. The project has not failed yet, but it indirectly led to Stanley's arrest.

Stanley did not commit the crime for which he is being taken to Camp Green Lake. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite the hopeless situation, Stanley hopes to make friends at the camp for the first time in his life. At home, he has not been able to connect with his classmates, mainly because he is overweight.

Chapter: 4

Part 1, 7%-11%

Setting: Camp Green Lake

Time: Day 1 at Camp Green Lake (May 24).

Characters: Stanley, guard, camp counselor Mr. Sir

Stanley arrives at Camp Green Lake after an eight-hour bus ride to serve his eighteen-month sentence. The camp is located in a barren, desert-like area with only a few tents and a few run-down buildings. Although Camp Green Lake is referred to as a reformatory, there are no fences or guard towers to keep the juvenile inmates from escaping. Since there is no way to get water within a hundred miles, none of the guards would prevent the youths from escaping. For them, trying to escape across the desert would be suicide.

Stanley is led to the brash camp counselor, Mr. Sir, who checks him for forbidden items and introduces him to camp life in terse terms. The main task for the inmates is to dig a five-foot deep hole out in the desert every day. Only then, when the hole is dug, the young people are allowed to return to the camp. If they find an interesting object while digging, they must turn it in to the counselors in exchange for a day off.

Chapter: 5

Part 1, 12%-15%

Setting: Camp Green Lake, Tent D

Time: Day 1 at Camp Green Lake

Characters: Stanley, Mr. Sir, Stanley's counselor Mr. Pendanski (nicknamed Mom), Camp Inmates: Squid (Alan), X-Ray (Rex), Magnet (Jose), Armpit (Theodore), Zigzag (Ricky), Zero (Hector Zeroni).

Mr. Sir introduces Stanley to Mr. Pendanski, the counselor in charge of him, who is called only Mom by the other camp inmates. Mr. Pendanski claims to still respect Stanley despite his social missteps and to want to help him rebuild his life. The first and only rule he tells Stanley is that he must never annoy the Warden of the camp.

Mr. Pendanski then introduces Stanley to the roommates of Tent D, which has a vacancy because one of its previous occupants is in the hospital. Stanley has six roommates who call each other by their nicknames: Squid, X-Ray, Magnet, Armpit, Zigzag and Zero. Armpit is supposed to help Stanley with further questions, but angrily pushes him to the ground when Stanley accidentally calls him by his real name.

Chapter: 6

Part 1, 16%-19%

Setting: Camp Green Lake, Tent D

Time: Day 1 at Camp Green Lake

Characters: In the present: Stanley, X-Ray, Squid, Armpit; In the past: Famous baseball player Clyde Livingston (nicknamed Sweet Feet), Stanley's former classmate Derrick Dunne.

Life at Camp Green Lake is extremely harsh : there is no hot water, the food is boring and simple, the atmosphere is harsh, the accommodations run-down. When Stanley’s roommates ask him why he was sent to Camp Green Lake, Stanley confesses that he was arrested for stealing a pair of sneakers - it belonged to the famous baseball player Clyde Livingston. No one wants to believe Stanley's story.

In a flashback, however, it becomes clear that although Stanley was actually innocent, he was indeed arrested for stealing the sneakers. After a day of humiliation at school, Clyde Livingston's sneakers literally fell on his head while he was crossing an underpass. Stanley could not have known that the shoes were to be auctioned off that day at a home for street children. He was excited and wanted to run home with the shoes, because they seemed to him like a possible key to his father's invention. However, he was stopped by a police patrol, which immediately recognized the shoes as stolen.

As it happens, Stanley was really a big fan of Clyde Livingston, a fact that spoke against him in his criminal trial. He was suspected of stealing the shoes just out of greed. Both the judges and Clyde Livingston himself called Stanley's act shameful because it prevented street children of the chance to receive financial assistance.

Chapter: 7

Part 1, 20%-32%

Setting: Camp Green Lake, holes in the desert

Time: Day 2 at Camp Green Lake, Stanley's first hole.

Characters: In the present: Stanley, Mr. Pendanski, Mr. Sir, the boys from Tent D (X-Ray, Squid, Magnet, Zigzag, Armpit, Zero) In the past: Elya Yelnats (Stanley's great-great-grandfather), Myra Menke (Elya Yelnats' childhood crush), Igor Barkov (pig farmer and another person interested in Myra Menke), Madame Zeroni (Elya Yelnats' old friend), Sarah Miller (Elya's future wife)

Present day Stanley must dig his first hole, five feet deep and wide. Only when he has finished digging it, is he allowed to return to the camp. Although the boys start digging in the dark, Stanley is busy with his hole until the worst of the midday heat. He has trouble carrying the earth far enough away from his hole, gets blisters on his hands that keep bursting open and smearing his fingers with blood, gets dizzy from the heat, and is completely drenched in sweat after just a few hours. Stanley is much slower than the other boys. When Mr. Pendanski finally picks him up, he has been digging alone in the heat for a long time.

Looking back at Stanley family past

This chapter also contains flashbacks to the life of Stanley’s great-great grandfather, Elya Yelnats, the ancestor who, according to family legend, is responsible for the family curse. Elya grew up in Latvia. At 15, he falls in love with Myra Menke, who is a year younger. But he is not the only one interested: a 57-year-old pig farmer also asks her father for her hand in marriage. Myra's father, however, does not want to give his daughter to the one who loves her the most, but to the one who can deliver him the fattest pig on her 15th birthday.

Since Elya cannot afford a pig, he asks his old friend Madame Zeroni for help. Although she adv...

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