Chapters 33-34 Summary

Stanley runs for a while, then he slows down. He knows nobody is coming after him. He is sure the truck will not be usable for a while. His mind races, but eventually the walking calms him down.

Stanley walks toward the Big Thumb, but he knows he cannot reach it without any water. He will have to return to the camp but decides not to do that right away. He thinks he might as well look for Zero until he is too tired and thirsty to walk anymore. That will give everyone time to calm down. Then Stanley can go back and try to make a deal with the Warden, using the location of the hole where he found the lipstick tube as his bargaining chip.

Stanley keeps finding holes long after he is out of sight of the camp. Nearer to camp, they are in a regular order, but out here they seem more random. As Stanley walks, he looks into each hole. He refuses to admit to himself that he is looking for Zero’s dead body. In one hole, he sees a family of yellow-spotted lizards. Terrified, he runs away.

When Stanley stops running again, he sees something on the ground and walks toward it. It is an old sunflower seed bag. There is only one seed at the bottom. Stanley eats it for lunch.

Stanley carries the empty sunflower seed bag with him because he thinks he might find something to put in it. He walks on through the hottest part of the day, feeling hotter and thirstier as time passes. He wonders if he is going too far, if he’ll be able to make it back. At one point, he sees a pool of water not far away and rushes toward it. The pool keeps its distance. He realizes it is just a mirage and stops chasing it.

Stanley keeps heading toward the Big Thumb for some time, but eventually he sees an object on the surface of the lake. Stanley cannot tell what the object is, but he thinks he can walk to it and still get back to camp without collapsing. As he heads toward it, he realizes it is a boat lying upside down in the dirt. At first Stanley thinks it is funny to find a boat in such a barren place, and then a grim thought occurs to him: somebody probably drowned in this boat long ago. When he gets to the boat, he looks around, reads its name—Mary Lou—and finds a little tunnel that leads beneath it.

Stanley assumes the tunnel belongs to an animal, so when he hears something coming out, he shouts, hoping to scare the animal back inside. To his surprise, the “animal” shouts back. It is Zero.