Chapter 4 Summary

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The bus driver unlocks Stanley’s handcuffs, and Stanley thanks the driver for the ride. He has been riding the bus for hours with nothing to eat or drink. As he climbs out of the bus, he feels dazed and his throat hurts.

The guard leads Stanley into a small, air-conditioned building. Inside, a man sits at a desk wearing a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses. He is drinking a can of soda, which makes Stanley feel even thirstier. The man has a huge bag of sunflower seeds by his desk. When the guard asks about it, the man at the desk explains that he recently quit smoking; now he eats sunflower seeds instead.

The man at the desk gets two cans of soda out of a small fridge. Stanley hopes he will get one, but the man gives them to the guard and says one is for the bus driver. When the guard complains about the length of the trip to Camp Green Lake, Stanley feels a little sorry for the man, considering that he has to make the trip twice in one day.

The man behind the desk spits some sunflower seed shells into a wastebasket. He tells Stanley to call him Mr. Sir. Stanley does not think this can really be the man’s name, but he obeys.

Mr. Sir strip searches Stanley and then issues him two sets of uniforms and a towel. The uniforms consist of orange jumpsuits, orange T-shirts, yellow socks, white sneakers, and an orange cap with a flap sewn on to protect the back of the neck from the sun. Stanley also gets a plastic canteen, but it is empty.

Mr. Sir tells Stanley to wear one set of clothes for work and the other for relaxation. He explains that Stanley’s job will be to dig a hole every day, seven days each week. Every hole has to be five feet deep and five feet across all around. He is supposed to use his shovel to measure the depth of each hole.

Next, Mr. Sir explains that Stanley will eat breakfast every morning at 4:30, then go directly out to dig. They start early so that the boys can get out of the sun before the hottest part of the day.

"If you dig up anything interesting, you are to report it to me or any other counselor," Mr. Sir says, but he does not explain what Stanley might find.

Outside, Mr. Sir points out that there are no guard towers or fences. He invites Stanley to run away. When Stanley looks at Mr. Sir’s gun, Mr. Sir promises not to shoot him. The gun is for yellow-spotted lizards, not for campers.

Stanley does not run away. He says he is not planning to run. Mr. Sir says that is good because there is no water anywhere within a three days’ journey. If Stanley tries to run, he will be “buzzard food.”

Finally, Mr. Sir asks if Stanley is thirsty. Relieved, Stanley says he is, but Mr. Sir does not offer him anything to drink. Instead, he says, “Get used to it. You’re going to be thirsty for the next eighteen months.”

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Chapters 1-3 Summary


Chapter 5 Summary