By the end of the novel, what has Stanley learned about himself?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stanley, the protagonist of Holes, is a dynamic character indeed. This means that from the beginning of the story till the end, he does not remain the same. He grows, changes, and adapts, and as a result, learns a lot about himself. To show how he changes, and what he learns, think about his character at the beginning of the novel. Overweight. Insecure. Easily bullied and taken advantage of. Quietly kind, but in a way that allows others to take advantage of him. Consider that he is pressured to give the lipstick tube to X-Ray so X-Ray can have the day off. Similarly, consider that he takes the blame when Magnet steals the sunflower. At the beginning of the story, Stanley is a sensitive and somewhat weak character who believes that his family is at fault for his lack of luck.

He changes, however, at Camp Green Lake. Of course, he loses weight. But more importantly, he begins to stand up for himself. "His muscles and hands weren't the only parts of his body that had toughened over the past several weeks. His heart had hardened as well" (82). As a result of this change of attitude, Stanley slowly ceases to act as a victim of life. He begins to identify those who threaten him, and starts to stand up for himself.

As he gains self-confidence, ironically, he develops a friendship with Zero, the least popular kid at camp. Stanley and Zero's friendship keep Stanley from going the full circle of victim-turned-bully. When Stanley risks his life at the end of the book, to save his friend Zero, he shows that he is no longer so self-centered. He considers the needs of others above his own. And, he is rewarded.

By the end of the book, no doubt, Stanley has discovered his own inner strength. He learns that he has the ability to control his destiny, or, at the very least, that perhaps he has not always been at the wrong place at the wrong time. He learns that friendship is more important than even life itself. And he learns that the family "bad luck" curse, can change, and has. As a result, he learns the importance of family, and decides to take care of his.

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