Stanley Yelnats, the main character of Holes, experiences all of these types of conflict through the novel. This is just one example of each type of conflict, but there are many other examples in the novel.
From the omniscient narrator, the reader learns about Camp Green Lake, a dried-up Texas lakebed that frequently reaches ninety-five degrees and is home to rattlesnakes, scorpions, and yellow-spotted lizards. These elements of nature are what the boys of Camp Green Lake must battle with to “dig a hole every day in the hot sun” (chapter 2). This is an example of a conflict between man and nature.
We also quickly meet Stanley, who is “from a poor family” (chapter 2) and “overweight” (chapter 3). He is being sent to Camp Green Lake for a crime that he did not commit. At Camp Green Lake, they believe that if a “bad boy” digs a hole every day, it turns him into a “good boy” (chapter 2). Even though Stanly is innocent, he is sent to camp and must fulfill his punishment. Stanley’s lack of privilege also further distances him from seeing justice in the criminal justice system. This part establishes the conflict between man and society.
When Stanley learns to dig holes, he must overcome conflict within himself. When he first tries to stick his shovel into the ground, he is not able to. He thinks that the shovel “wasn't defective. He was defective” (chapter 7). Stanley also works throughout the novel to overcome his sense of shame about his body image and his family’s history. These conflicts within Stanley demonstrate a conflict of man versus self.
Stanley, along with all the campers, is usually in conflict with the authority figures of the camp. When one of the campers steals Mr. Sir’s sunflower seeds, Stanley takes the blame. After that, Mr. Sir does not fill Stanley’s canteen. Instead, he
held the canteen right next to the stream of water. Stanley watched the water splatter on the dirt, where it was quickly absorbed by the thirsty ground (chapter 24).
This conflict between Stanley and Mr. Sir is one example of the man versus man conflict in the book.