The Warden (Ms. Walker)—the terrifying woman who runs Camp Green Lake.
Stanley Yelnats (Caveman)—Holes’s main character; a fat, innocent, good-hearted boy.
The guard—a man who escorts Stanley to camp and carries a rifle.
The bus driver—a man drives the boys nine hours each way to camp and back.
Mr. Sir—one of the overseers at Camp Green Lake.
Mr. Pendanski (Mom)—the adult counselor in charge of D Tent.
Alan (Squid)—the first white boy Stanley meets at camp.
Lewis (Barf Bag)—the boy who had Stanley’s cot before he went to the hospital.
Rex (X-Ray)—the first black camper Stanley meets, wears thick glasses.
Jose (Magnet)—a Hispanic camper who wants to work with animals.
Theodore (Armpit)—the boy who tosses Stanley to the ground when they first meet.
Ricky (Zigzag)—the camper who hits Stanley in the head with a shovel.
The judge—the man who sentences Stanley to either camp or jail for stealing the sneakers.
Hector Zeroni (Zero)—the fastest digger in camp, Madame Zeroni’s descendent.
The Lump—a large and threatening camper.
Brian (Twitch)—the new camper who replaces Zero when he runs away.
Ms. Morengo—the lawyer who comes to get Stanley from the camp.
Mrs. Bell—Stanley’s math teacher.
Derrick Dunne—a boy who used to bully Stanley back at school.
Stanley’s father—an inventor working on recycling sneakers.
Clyde “Sweet Feet” Livingstone—the baseball star whose shoes were stolen.
Elya Yelnats—Stanley’s great-great-grandfather, who starts the family curse.
Myra Menke—the beautiful but dim girl Elya loved.
Igor Barkov—the fifty-seven-year-old pig farmer who also wanted Myra.
Madame Zeroni—the one-footed gypsy who advises Elya on love.
Sarah Miller—the woman Elya marries in America.
Katherine Barlow—the former schoolteacher who becomes a bandit.
Charles/Trout Walker—the spoiled young man who wants Katherine.
Doc Hawthorn—the doctor for old Green Lake.
Sam—the onion man, a black folk healer in old Green Lake.
Linda Miller—a former student of Katherine’s who marries Trout.
Mrs. Gladys Tennyson—a proper woman from old Green Lake.
Hattie Parker—the woman in old Green Lake who starts the lynching of Sam.
Walter, Bo, and Jessie—three men who buy onion tonic from Sam.
Stanley Yelnats (Caveman) is the main character of Holes. When the book starts, he is overweight and passive. He is the latest in a line of family members who are good-hearted and well-meaning, but who have stumbled in life and never really lived up to their potential or made themselves a success. They all attribute this lack of success to Stanley’s “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.” Stanley is also pretty naïve, as is his family; this is demonstrated by their sense that telling the ridiculous truth would be enough to get Stanley declared innocent of the crime he is charged with.
Getting sentenced to Camp Green Lake is terrible, but his experiences there transform Stanley. He loses weight, toughens up, and becomes emotionally stronger. Stanley learns to trust both his heart and his intuition. He also learns that life is not necessarily straightforward; he lies to protect the other boys when they steal the sunflower seeds because he is pursuing a greater good. In the end, Stanley becomes a genuine hero: he is brave enough to go into the desert to rescue a friend but compassionate enough to have spent time teaching that friend how to read.
Hector Zeroni (Zero) is a scrawny boy, but he is also highly skilled at digging holes. He is Stanley’s opposite and his counterpart. Whereas Stanley feels out...
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of place at first, Zero lets himself be misunderstood and classified as an idiot out of an intuitive sense of self-protection. While Stanley knows words pretty well, being able to think on his feet well enough to lie to protect Magnet, Zero is almost wordless at times. He is all action and, curiously, math. However, like the holes the boys are digging, Zero has hidden depths, and as Stanley saves him in the desert, so Zero saves him when they climb the rocks. Zero is so brave that he is willing to let the shovel blade cut his hands to do what is necessary. This quality is produced in part by his terrible past. Homeless and illiterate, Zero lost his mother before he was sent to camp. As a result, he clings desperately to what he does have, like his friend Stanley.
While the other boys emerge as fairly sharply defined individuals at different points throughout the novel, they really do not play major individual roles in defining the novel’s course. Instead, they function as a community: a painful, damaged, but strong community. They give one another identities, and they counsel Stanley when he first arrives about what life is like at Camp Green Lake.
The Warden’s name is Ms. Walker; she is the direct descendent of Trout Walker, who killed Katherine Barlow. However, while Trout was a garden-variety greedy idiot, Ms. Walker comes off as obsessed and dark. The author keeps her behind the scenes for a while, letting the boys’ fear of the Warden build her stature. But once she shows herself cruel enough to short boys on water in the desert, capricious enough to slap her underlings hard enough to slash their faces, and evil enough to make nail polish from rattlesnake venom, the Warden is revealed to be that rarest of creatures: the pure villain.