Madame Zeroni believes that Mayra is dumb and worthless and tells him to carry a pig up a mountain.
The book Holes involves interrelated plots that take place in the present and in the past. In the past, Madame Zeroni councils Elya about his choice of wife. Madame Zeroni does not believe that Myra is the best wife for him. She tells him that "Myra's head is as empty as a flowerpot." He tells Madame Zeroni that she is beautiful, but Madame Zeroni is not impressed.
"So is a flowerpot. Can she push a plow? Can she milk a goat? No, she is too delicate. Can she have an intelligent conversation? No, she is silly and foolish. Will she take care of you when you are sick? No, she is spoiled and will only want you to take care of her. …” (Ch. 7)
Madame Zeroni seeks to convince Elya that Myra is a bad choice. She tells Elya to carry a pig up a mountain every day. He will get stronger and be more desirable. Then he is to carry her up the mountain. Myra has to choose between two pigs. The pigs represent Elya and Igor, a man that Elya has no respect for.
"Myra," said her father. "Elya and Igor have each offered a pig for your hand in marriage. It doesn't matter to me. A pig is a pig. So I will let you make the choice. Whom do you wish to marry?” (Ch. 7)
Myra proves to be as empty-headed as Madame Zeroni said. She says that she can’t choose between the pigs or the men. The pigs weigh the same. She asks them to pick a number. Elya is sad. He feels that she does not really love him.
Elya tells Myra to marry Igor and keep his pig as a wedding present. He sees a sign on a ship advertising for deck hand jobs. He has no sailing experience, but heading to America seems like the perfect cure for a broken heart. Unfortunately, he does not get to carry Madame Zeroni up the mountain and she curses him and his descendants.
Stanley's family believes that it is cursed. Elya's descendant Stanley breaks the family curse by carrying Zero, Madame Zeroni's descendant, up a mountain in America in the present.