Chapters 8-9 Summary

In Chapter 8, the story pauses briefly to describe the yellow-spotted lizard. Some people do not believe yellow-spotted lizards exist, but their bites are deadly whether or not someone believes. Yellow-spotted lizards are yellowish-green, with exactly eleven hard-to-see spots. They have scary faces with red-rimmed eyes, black teeth, and white tongues. They live in groups in big holes that give them protection from the sun. They eat many plant and animal foods—including the shells of sunflower seeds.

Chapter 9 begins as Stanley takes a shower. Today the cold water feels wonderful. He lets it pour over his sore body for the full four minutes he is allowed to let the water run. He does not use soap because he is too tired.

After his shower, Stanley changes his clothes and goes to the rec room, which is called the Wreck Room. Everything there is broken; even the people appear to be broken. Like Stanley, they are all worn out. On his way into the room, Stanley trips over a boy’s leg, and they get into an argument. X-Ray and Armpit warn Stanley not to mess with the boy. “You don’t want to mess with the Caveman,” X-Ray warns. Stanley protests that he is not trying to mess with anyone.

The boys from D tent ask Stanley how he liked digging his first hole. Stanley says the first hole is the hardest. X-Ray disagrees. He says the second hole, tomorrow’s hole, will be hardest because Stanley will already be sore. Also, all the fun of digging is gone. Stanley does not think the first hole was fun, but he does not say so.

When the boys find out Stanley is going to write to his mother, they seem jealous but they leave him alone. Stanley writes a note full of lies about making friends, going swimming, and trying water-skiing at camp. When he is half finished, he notices Zero looking over his shoulder. Stanley explains that he does not want his mother to worry, but Zero just stares at the note looking angry. Worried, Stanley puts his note away.

When Zero speaks, he does not ask about the letter. He wants to know if the shoes Stanley stole had red Xs on the back. Stanley says they did. He does not know how Zero could know this, but he reasons that Clyde Livingston may have done a commercial for that brand of shoes.

Soon the other boys from D tent call Stanley and Zero for dinner. They call Stanley Caveman, and only then does Stanley realize that Caveman is his new nickname. He is so surprised that he does not immediately realize the boys in his tent stood up for him in the Wreck Room.